Monday, 26 February 2018

Teaching for Student Success

What counts…
What matters…
What is important…

… in teaching for student success?

You can ask people who know me. They’ll tell you I don’t waste time playing in the shallow water. I go deep. But this question was one even I was afraid to ask. Until now.

A group of mentor teachers and I explored this question as a way to provide authentic and meaningful support to teachers new to the profession, while remaining true to our non-evaluative role. Modelling our process on what we would do with students, we began with the end in mind – not our opinion about what is important in effective teaching, but what our school district and ministry or department of education say on the topic. Because we were in Ontario, we used the 16 Competency Statements from the Teacher Performance Appraisal, but any document used in teacher evaluation will work.

After reviewing and discussing the pertinent documents, teams of teachers wrote “I can” statements about the grade or discipline they taught. As we engaged in the conversation, it became clear to us that the conversation itself was important. We need to talk about this as educators.

As ideas were recorded, we saw that just like in the learning destinations we write for students, we were not prescribing steps or isolated elements of teaching.  Rather, we were talking about big ideas that could be met in a variety of ways, honouring the individuality so critical to teaching.

Here are some examples of our first thinking:

With thanks from Ottawa Catholic School Board

Now, whether we are mentors talking with teachers at the beginning of their career, a team of Grade 2-3 teachers exploring the teaching of writing, the Math department in a high school, or a principal and a teacher talking about strengths and goals, we have something practical, positive, and possible to guide our work.