As a teacher, January was always a breath of fresh air. It was a reminder to me that somehow the things that needed to get done would get done and the goals still ahead were still attainable. I’d think back to all the moments in the fall when I thought “I’m not even going to make it to December” and yet, here I was- grades entered, referrals cleared from my desk, and a whole semester’s worth of lessons to guide my way forward.
Each year, I made an intention to have that feeling of accomplishment and that renewed energy last as long as it could. When, inevitably, this energy started to wane, I would look to the educators around me to catch a second wind. Seeing their dedication as they analyzed student reading growth, their compassion as they counseled students through applying and accepting college applications in their free time, and the love with which they planned events like prom reminded me that we had a shared vision; that I was not alone.
It is important to us as a teacher development team that you know we are here to work alongside you towards a successful year in the classroom. It is because of this that we ask for your feedback so regularly and because of this that we take your feedback so seriously. Read through our reflections on your most recent feedback via the Mid-Year Survey below…
Thank you so much for taking the time and thought to complete the mid-year survey back in December. ATC staff have had an opportunity to review your feedback and start action-planning for this semester. I would like to share a few of our takeaways below.
Overall, ATC continues to be a transparent and authentic organization that works intentionally to realize equity in the educational system and growth for students and Fellows alike. Many Fellows noted the family atmosphere of ATC and appreciated the combination of support and resource-sharing with the hard conversations that keep us all focused on what truly matters (student growth and achievement).
However, Fellows surfaced two ongoing challenges for us all to consider and address: the feeling of isolation and/or disconnection living and working in rural communities (especially if there aren’t other Fellows in the area), and consistency of both staff themselves (decreasing staff turnover) and staff expectations.
Consistency was also the primary challenge identified for coaching, with some Fellows noting that PD and coaching expectations are not always communicated clearly and other Fellows highlighting logistical concerns like scheduling. In response to this data, coaches will be following-up with their Fellows directly regarding a more consistent schedule for coaching visits and debriefs.
Furthermore, we will be using this information in addition to more detailed responses some Fellows have shared on the strategic planning survey to create a clear, concise framework for PD expectations throughout the Fellowship that can be shared with new Fellows (and thereby decreasing what feels like chaotic changes to PD from year to year).
We also want to acknowledge that many of you had a rough experience trying to upload your videos to GoReact, and we really appreciate your continued dedication, patience, and flexibility! While many of you found the video observation a positive experience that allowed you to view your classroom and teaching practice from a different, more objective perspective, almost all of you experienced a technical difficulty in one form or another.
From website glitches to school-issued equipment that wouldn’t connect to recordings that timed out to videos that were too big to upload, you all really demonstrated resilience. We are reviewing and revising the TESS video observation protocol for this semester to allow you to upload your video directly to Google Drive through the reflection survey (rather than having to upload it as a separate action step). More information to come.
We are also excited to share that this feedback has led us to change one of our internal meeting structures. While all coaches meet weekly for a group check-in/PLC, in the past these have been mostly focused on sharing information/resources and collaborative problem-solving. Moving forward though, coaches will be reaching out to Fellows individually about recording debrief conversations to share with other coaches during their weekly check-in and get feedback on their coaching approaches.
Not only will this allow staff to more accurately plan for video observations because they’ve gone through the process themselves, but this will also allow coaches to better norm as a team on expectations and coaching methods (thus leading to a more consistent experience from region to region and year to year). If you are comfortable having your debrief filmed, you might expect your coach to record 1-2 debriefs throughout this spring semester.
As always, please reach out to me with any questions or concerns. Keep up the great work!Brandon Lucius (Executive Director) and the Teacher Development Team