Sunday, September 25, 2016

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (September 25, 2016)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Raising the Bar on Professional Development

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For a number of years, my school district (Burlington Public Schools) has started the year with three days of professional development structured in a conference format which we call BPSCon.  It has definitely been an iterative process as we have taken the feedback of staff members each year to try to strike a balance between mandatory sessions and choice options. In addition, we have worked hard to try to ensure that there are relevant offerings for specialists and teachers at all grade levels.

Not surprisingly, the thing that has made the biggest impact for us in providing more meaningful sessions for staff members has been putting structures in place that allow staff members to have a more active voice in developing the schedule. Two years ago, Burlington joined the District Capacity Project (DCP), a joint venture between labor and management that supported our district in setting up a committee comprised of educators from across our district and administrators to meet monthly to plan meaningful Professional Development.

One of the reasons this process has worked so well is that it never ends. Our District Capacity Project team will meet in September to review our staff survey from the BPSCon that took place this past week and begin to plan for next year's conference. In addition, feedback from teachers also allows us to expand some of our PD offerings for the upcoming school year as they respond to the following questions:
  • Are there sessions that you were not able to attend that you would like to see offered during the school year?
  • Are there sessions that you did attend that you would like to see additional Professional Development time dedicated to during the school year?
Based on the responses of our teachers, we will be able to offer after-school sessions or online sessions in the evening that will allow them to pursue additional PD credits in areas in which they are most interested.

The DCP work in Burlington has created a process in which teacher voice truly shapes Professional Learning opportunities. Staff members recommend colleagues to lead sessions who have experience in a variety of areas. In addition, staff members submit names of presenters from positive PD experiences they have had outside of school.   A few of the sessions that received the most positive feedback at this year's BPSCon came because of these recommendations by staff.  Sessions like Religions in Burlington (members of the Burlington Interfaith Clergy are pictured below), Safe Schools Program for LGBTQ Students, and Mindfulness came directly from staff recommendations of outside presenters.
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While our work on providing meaningful PD options for all staff members is far from over, creating a process where educators have an authentic voice in the process has allowed for much greater diversity in our offerings and far greater satisfaction levels for our lead learners (teachers).

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Burlington "Great Eight" Has Been Revised

When Burlington Public Schools began its implementation of the Massachusetts Model System for Educator Evaluation a few years ago, we decided that trying to focus on all 33 elements contained in the models teacher rubric would be a bit overwhelming. Instead, we decided to prioritize eight of these 33 elements to help staff feel a little less anxious and to help evaluators be a bit more focused. This year we have modified our "Great Eight" to include an element under the Cultural Proficiency indicator, which is part of Standard II (Teaching all Students). The element that we added is Respects Differences. The element that was dropped from the Great Eight was Student Motivation.  Of course, student motivation is still an important aspect of what we look for in our classrooms, but we feel that we still have an adequate focus on this area with the element on Student Engagement.

The Burlington Public Schools "Great Eight"

While we find value in looking for evidence of all of the 33 elements within the  MA Model System for Educator Evaluation, the eight elements numbered (and in bold) below are the ones that BPS educators will have as their primary focus.

The eight elements below will be the primary focus during the evaluation process:

Standard I: Curriculum, Planning, and Assessment. The teacher promotes the learning and growth of all students by providing high-quality and coherent instruction, designing and administering authentic and meaningful student assessments, analyzing student performance and growth data, using this data to improve instruction, providing students with constructive feedback on an ongoing basis, and continuously refining learning objectives.

Indicator I-A. Curriculum and Planning: Knows the subject matter well, has a good grasp of child development and how students learn, and designs effective and rigorous standards-based units of instruction consisting of well-structured lessons with measurable outcomes.


  • #1 - I-A-1. Subject Matter Knowledge (Proficient) Demonstrates sound knowledge and understanding of the subject matter and the pedagogy it requires by consistently engaging students in learning experiences that enable them to acquire complex knowledge and skills in the subject.
  • #2 - I-A-3. Rigorous Standards-Based Unit Design (Proficient) Designs units of instruction with measurable outcomes and challenging tasks requiring higher-order thinking skills that enable students to learn the knowledge and skills defined in state standards/local curricula.
  • #3 - I-A-4. Well-Structured Lessons (Proficient) Develops well-structured lessons with challenging, measurable objectives and appropriate student engagement strategies, pacing, sequence, activities, materials, resources, technologies, and grouping.
Indicator I-B. Assessment: Uses a variety of informal and formal methods of assessments to measure student learning, growth, and understanding to develop differentiated and enhanced learning experiences and improve future instruction.

  • #4 - I-B-2. Adjustment to Practice (Proficient) Organizes and analyzes results from a variety of assessments to determine progress toward intended outcomes and uses these findings to adjust practice and identify and/or implement appropriate differentiated interventions and enhancements for students.
Standard II: Teaching All Students. The teacher promotes the learning and growth of all students through instructional practices that establish high expectations, create a safe and effective classroom environment, and demonstrate cultural proficiency.

Indicator II-A. Instruction: Uses instructional practices that reflect high expectations regarding content and quality of effort and work; engage all students; and are personalized to accommodate diverse learning styles, needs, interests, and levels of readiness.


  • #5 - II-A-2. Student Engagement (Proficient) Consistently uses instructional practices that are likely to motivate and engage most students during the lesson.
Indicator II-C. Cultural Proficiency. Actively creates and maintains an environment in which students' diverse backgrounds, identities, strengths, and challenges are respected.
  • #6 - II-C-1. Respects Differences (Proficient) Consistently uses strategies and practices that are likely to enable students to demonstrate respect for and affirm their own and others’ differences related to background, identity, language, strengths, and challenges. 

Standard III: Family and Community Engagement. The teacher promotes the learning and growth of all students through effective partnerships with families, caregivers, community members, and organizations.

Indicator III-A. Engagement: Welcomes and encourages every family to become active participants in the classroom and school community.


  • #7 - III-A-1. Parent/Family Engagement (Proficient) Uses a variety of strategies to support every family to participate actively and appropriately in the classroom and school community.

Standard IV: Professional Culture. The teacher promotes the learning and growth of all students through ethical, culturally proficient, skilled, and collaborative practice.

Indicator IV-C. Collaboration: Collaborates effectively with colleagues on a wide range of tasks.


  • #8 - IV-C-1. Professional Collaboration (Proficient) Consistently and effectively collaborates with colleagues in such work as developing standards-based units, examining student work, analyzing student performance, and planning appropriate intervention.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.