Last week we discussed the ineffective use of scripting for teacher observations. This week, we’ll focus on a component of a more effective teacher evaluation model: Individualized Professional Learning Plans.
You’re probably asking yourself, “So what, exactly, is an individualized professional learning plan?”.
Individualized professional learning plans are an individualized, focused, and on-going means of setting goals for teacher professional growth. The focused, individualized nature of these plans makes them an effective roadmap for teacher reflection and growth. Below are some more reasons why individualized professional learning plans are an integral piece of a comprehensive professional practice framework.
#1 – They’re Focused on Community Standards
One reason these plans are effective is that the implementation begins with a focus on state and local standards. In other words, what does the school know about its students, and what are its expectations for them? Schools then use data to determine where their students are regarding those standards and set goals for improvement.
#2 – They’re Focused on Purposeful Goals
With a focus on the goals set for student improvement, teachers determine their own set of goals – their contribution to student growth and improvement. For example, if the school data determined that students were weak at evaluating bias in nonfiction texts, an individual teacher may set a goal for how they can improve that skill in their own classroom. In this way, the goals are purposeful and goal centered.
#3 – They’re Focused on Measurable Goals
Another reason these plans are effective is that the teachers set measurable goals. In other words, they include quantifiable data to determine whether they are seeing student growth in a determined area. For example, a teacher may determine that they’re going to incorporate three more pieces of nonfiction writing into their curriculum through which students will practice evaluating bias. Teachers can then measure students’ progress throughout the course of the year through formative and summative assessments on evaluating bias.
#4 – They Lead to More Efficient and Meaningful Teacher Evaluations
Evaluators who primarily use scripting write down everything that happens in a classroom. At the end, they have vast amounts of unfocused data to sift through, so reflection with the teachers they evaluate is often time consuming and disconnected. Instead, the individualized professional learning plans mean teachers and evaluators have a specific focus along with meaningful data to inform their conversation and determine a plan for teacher growth. In other words, did the data indicate student growth in assessing bias in nonfiction text? Were there still areas of weakness? The evaluator and teacher may determine, for example, that while students improved overall in evaluating bias, they still struggled with identifying loaded language in a text or evaluating credibility of the writer. They would then reflect on how the teacher could better help students regarding these specific skills.
How do you see individualized professional learning plans fitting into the teacher evaluation model at your school?