Thursday, May 24, 2012

We are at the airport in Cincinnati with a four hour wait for a flight to Chicago where we have about a half hour to catch our connecting flight home landing about 11 tonight.

Below are some thoughts from Mark about his experience at the conference.

I know that collaborating and building positive working relationships are critical to being successful in my new role as HR Director this year. The Collaboration Conference has enabled me to listen and learn from educational practitioners from around the country. A few things have resonated with me as I reflect on the last few days.

1. SHARED DECISION MAKING: I am convinced that Tahoma's model of consensus is a critical piece of the puzzle. Many of the districts here have shared the importance of shared-decision-making and, in fact, named it as THE most important piece of the puzzle. I feel encouraged that we have embraced this concept in our district more than a decade ago.

2. EVALUATIONS: Almost every state is struggling with implementing new evaluation models for teachers. It was interesting to hear that other states are dealing with similar implementation issues as we will be in Washington. I could hear the emotion in the voices of teachers and superintendents lamenting the struggles they have. Ohio (50% of teacher evaluations based on student test scores) and Tennessee (one state rubric to use with no flexibility for individual districts).

3. TIME: As we all know, time is finite; there are only 24 hours in a day. I was encouraged to learn about some creative ways districts are utilizing and organizing their time to better meet the needs of kids. Olathe, Kansas and their use of Professional Councils. Meriden, Connecticut's use of assessment data and Teacher Leadership. These are all similar to what we do in Tahoma but offer a slightly different approach that merits consideration. As does Ada School District's use of their My Voice survey data.

All in all it was a tremendous opportunity to learn and grow with Mike, Didem and Scott. I also came away thinking that Tahoma should be a presenting district in the future!

Mark Koch

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