Sunday, November 9, 2014

Solutions not just problems

I’m part of the educational reform problem. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.  So there, I just admitted I have a problem. It was good to get that off my chest.  However, admitting I have a problem is only the first step and only half the story. I’m also part of the solution.  How can I be part of the problem AND part of the solution? It’s a matter of choice:  instead of sitting on the sidelines complaining about the faults and flaws of our system, I need to offer up solutions to the problems I am so quick to point out.  If admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery then offering up a possible solution is the second step in that recovery.  The third step to recovery is action.

Solution plans need action.  As an educational leader, action comes in the form of leadership: vision, creating a culture of lasting educational transformation, resource allocation, and genuine support my teachers need to be successful.  It is not an easy job….. one which will have plenty of pitfalls and other setbacks. However, it is the only way our school (and thus the entire educational system) can move forward toward the improved version we all seek.  So the choice we have as leaders is either to sit back, complain about the problems, game the compliance system, blame our problems on Politicians and educational reformers OR choose to do none of those.  We could choose to talk to our teachers and reassure them on how things will affect them and how things will look in our districts.  We could choose to objectively look at the issue and work to incorporate the intended outcomes into our specific situations.  We could choose to be part of the solution and not just part of the problem.  If you want to learn more about how you can be part of the solution, check out “For the People: A vision for Oklahoma Public Education”.

My previous post was about quantitative data in teacher evaluations titled TLE or POS? I was quick to point out the problems with quantitative data.  Now I’m going to point out our school’s solution:

  •         Every teacher regardless of teaching a tested subject will create an SLO or SOO that meets the growth target criteria set up by either their PLC team or principal.
    • In August during in-service training of professional development days, teachers will be given time, resources, and training in SLO/SOO development.
    • Teachers will decide the content/focus, their student population, the window of instruction, and the assessment tools needed to successfully complete their SLO/SOO.
    • Teachers will have autonomy over their SLO/SOO; they decide if they want to measure all their standards or just a specific aspect of it.  They decide which subject, which class, or which demographic group the SLO/SOO will focus. These decisions will have the educational rationale of looking at data to improve instruction.
    • Teachers will be expected to select realistic growth targets for their students which are robust and moves students toward mastery of skills/standards.

      In our district EVERY teacher will have the opportunity to adjust, re-teach, and re-assess based on the results of their SLO outcomes.  To preserve the integrity of the process & to conform to the law, this adjustment will come in the form on a second SLO.  However, our teachers will be armed with relevant information specific to what they wanted to know and allowed to use the data to improve what they wanted to measure. 

The SLO/SOO process will be used to affirm great teaching and learning or provide teachers much needed information about where improvement is needed.  Either way, teachers and students will be supported in this process to make our school better.  The SLO/SOO aspect of teacher evaluations had the intention of improving professional practice.  Instead of complaining about the flaws and faults with using quantitative data in evaluations, I choose to comply with TLE’s intent: to improve professional practice in a positive, nurturing way. I choose to be part of the solution and not just the problem.

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