Navigating the Every Student Succeeds Act: The Platform—A New Definition of Professional Development for Teachers

Are your teachers getting the support they need to close student achievement gaps?

The Every Student Succeeds Act provides us with a new definition of Professional Development that includes activities that are:

  • An integral part of the school/district strategy for increasing the knowledge and skill of teachers to enable students to succeed in a well-rounded education
  • Focused on meeting challenging academic standards
  • Required to be sustained (not stand-alone, one-day or short-term workshops), intensive, and collaborative
  • Data driven.

Linda Darling-Hammond documents through her research that teachers need close to 50 hours of Professional Development to improve their skills and their students’ learning. If we are truly going to meet the new definition of professional learning and have an impact on increasing the capacity of every teacher we must develop a strong coaching model in our schools. What are the key elements to a strong impactful coaching model?

  1. Commitment to a systemic vision. District leadership must provide exemplary job-embedded coaching for all teachers in their district. This means budgeting resources necessary to support this commitment.
  2. Recruitment and selection of coaches. It’s important for leaders to assess the internal expertise of possible coaches and determine whether they have sufficient resources to provide coaching internally or need to select a provider with a deep bench of high-quality coaches. The district should select coaches based upon detailed criteria, including the coaches’ knowledge, ability to provide reflective feedback, and ability to build a trusting relationship with the teacher.
  3. Trust among coaches and teachers. Teachers are more willing to change their instructional practices if they develop a trusting relationship with their coach. Good coaches give effective feedback, supporting teachers by listening and offering thoughtful, practical instructional strategies.
  4. Coaching without evaluating. To truly optimize coaching, district and school leadership must build a culture of support that is non-threatening—encouraging coaches to offer recommendations that allow teachers to experiment with instructional strategies and to grow incrementally.
  5. A developmental progress-monitoring scale that includes observations of the learner and instructional design. If the purpose of instructional coaching is to change teacher practice, I recommend using a developmental scale that focuses on the learners and what they should be doing as evidence that the teacher is effectively changing the instructional design. Test your skills as a coach via the International Center for Leadership in Education’s coaching portal. The portal includes nine classroom videos and a series of rubrics designed to measure the shifts in college and career standard expectations. Click on the Rigor/Relevance Framework and then select your video and apply the rubrics. Once you’ve completed your review, you can listen to an ICLE coach’s feedback.
  6. Coaching tied to data analysis. To be truly effective, the coach and teacher should begin with a careful analysis of the teacher’s classroom data. The coach and teacher jointly identify areas of concern and develop a plan of action.

It is time to take action and provide our teachers with high-quality job-embedded coaching that will be sustainable over multiple years if we are to achieve the 50+ hours we know is required to effectively change teacher practice.

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