Sunday, May 15, 2011

Influencing evaluation . . .

In a comment to the post on NEA’s potential policy change related to teacher evaluation, Scott shares with us that he and two others will be delegates at the national conference where the decision will be made on the proposed policy change. Perhaps I can get him to do a guest blog from Chicago.

He also shares with us a conversation with Governor Gregoire where our work was mentioned in an attempt to influence her as decisions are made on the evaluation model adopted at the state level. We want whatever emerges to have a framework that provides districts with the flexibility to identify a preferred instructional process. The districts that are piloting this year are using a variety of approaches with most using a model created outside their school district. You can sign up for following the progress of these districts here.

There are many in the state that are advocating for one model while we want flexibility that allows our Classroom 10 work to continue. We have been using a variety of avenues to share our work in an effort to convince those with decision making authority that flexibility is a key to success. The conversation that Scott Poirier had with the Governor, conversations we have had with Deputy Superintendent Alan Burke and feedback from Superintendent Dorn suggest that we are having some influence.

Why is our work in Tahoma part of this conversation? How is it that we are influencing the course of the discussion? We must be doing something that others see has value. I would suggest that it is partially due to the following characteristics of our culture.

• The quality of our work force and our desire for continuous learning and growth over time.
• Our belief in collaboration and consensus that promotes engagement and supports skillful conversations.
• Our Classroom 10 vision.

Once again, our work is being used as an example and Tahoma’s reputation continues to grow. Thank you!

1 comment:

John said...

I attended a conference this evening by Dr. William R. Daggett, a researcher in the field of education reform. After hearing him speak, I continue to be proud of the work we are doing here in Tahoma. He spoke of the origins of the reform movement, the changing world our students are living in today (primarily the increase in technology and the access to it), and global competition and the inability for our students to keep up with the rest of the world. The talk was very much in–line with what Ian Jukes shared with us a few years back.
According to Dr. Daggett, it is essential that schools focus on adhering to fewer, simpler, and higher core standards, focus on rigor as well as relevance, and teach students application to real world predictable and unpredictable situations. He also stated that Washington State is one of the worst states in the country for change. According to Daggett, we as a state are known in the national education debate as being more focused on what we used to do than where we need to go. At the end of the conference, I introduced myself and told him I was from Tahoma School District. I informed him of our Classroom 10 measure and the work we do here. He said he had heard of us and that there are definitely “pockets of excellence” in the state.
Upon my drive home I was reflecting on this last statement. I asked myself why it is that we are a “pocket” in the midst of stagnation. The ability that we have to work collaboratively together on the Classroom 10 initiative, on evaluation, and on innovation make our district special, worthy of leading our state in true reform. The key is collaboration; without it we stagnate and fail in our attempts to improve the quality of education for our students. This led me to think of the high number of teachers who, for whatever reason, do not feel comfortable sharing their talents. We need to continue our efforts to make a collaborative and welcoming environment throughout our district to do the work we need to do. It is when we do this that we will truly be the leaders that I know Tahoma educators can be. High levels of collaboration plus high levels of support will lead us to that high level of rigor and relevance that we as professionals know our students can achieve.