Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bargaining for Better Teaching

I am really hoping that those negotiating on the table right now, who should be the forerunners of education reform in DCPS, would take a look at this NBPTS report, "Measuring What Matters". I have a lot of questions about the proposed DCPS two-tier pay plan and I have blogged about it and most recently here, the proponent of the FIRST Program is also one of the people who developed the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

My colleague and co-Teacher Consultant (DCAWP) Elizabeth Davis wrote an article which will be in The Washington Post tomorrow:

Those of us with a sense of urgency about reform want to know from both the chancellor and the Washington Teachers' Union:
1. What is the plan to build understanding about what defines good teaching, so it becomes the norm in every classroom? Successful efforts to improve teaching and learning across the country (including Montgomery and Prince George's counties) have begun with a clear definition. Many school systems use the Danielson model; Research for Better Teaching's "The Skillful Teacher" approach; the Institute for Learning's "Principles of Learning" or the Core Propositions of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

2. What is the plan to provide new teacher induction or, better yet, a "teacher residency" program so that the next generation of teachers has the knowledge and skills to engage in quality teaching? Exciting new efforts in Boston and Chicago, for example, create expert teachers using something akin to a medical residency model.

3. What is the plan to create professional teaching conditions and support for good teaching at every school so that talented teachers stay? Investing in a system that supports its teachers and works with them toward constant improvement will create a professional teaching corps -- a needed foundation for each school and for the system.

4. What is the plan to create an expedited and a high-quality teacher evaluation process that teachers respect? Is the WTU interested in the "peer review" approach taking hold elsewhere? How will the teacher evaluation process be infused with a deep understanding of how to observe and analyze teaching in a way that respects the complexity of the craft?

5. The consensus about the need to raise teacher pay is admirable, but how will the dollars be sustained over the long haul, and what in the bargain will deliver higher-quality teaching as a quid pro quo?"At will" job status improves nothing and is an insult to excellent teachers in the system. It certainly is not worth the cost to the public if the knowledge and skill to facilitate the improvement of teaching and learning is missing. Will teachers be any better prepared and supported under the proposed contract than before?


Nancy Flanagan said...

I am standing, APPLAUDING Elizabeth Davis' very salient questions on raising teacher quality in DC Public Schools--as well as all public schools. They are right on.

It is gratifying and encouraging to note that you are using "Measuring What Matters" in your quest to help the education community and policy-makers understand the impact of raising teacher professionalism on student learning and teacher practice.

Good teachers want to be responsible for their students' growth and achievement. But they also want to be part of the process that determines what best practice looks like, and what's most effective.

I was happy to see that Davis pushes for teacher residency programs, one way to build teacher capacity over the long haul--rather than the "here today, gone tomorrow" programs that bring in new teachers who are not committed to becoming a part of the long-term solution to improving the schools where they work.

You have been posting some great things. Thank you.

ms.angala said...

Ms. Flanagan,

I thank you once again for visiting my blog and for your kind words. Elizabeth Davis is one of the most dedicated, passionate, most effective veteran teachers in DC Public Schools. She is an excellent teacher leader and she is one of my mentors that I respect and look up to. She has trained me well, with the rest of the DC Area Writing Project Teacher Consultants, and I will never be the teacher that I am today if not because of them.

Just like you, I couldn't agree with her more. Indeed, great minds think alike!

Promethean Planet


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