I have always been the kind of teacher who “takes the summer off.” I usually don’t think about school very seriously until about a week before we go back. This year, however, I have been unable to get my mind to stop thinking about the upcoming school year. I have been learning so much on Twitter and am trying to come up with the best ways to implement what I am learning. I can’t stop thinking about it. I go to bed thinking about school, I dream about school (I even dreamt I met Obama in the school gym!), I wake up thinking about school and I think about it all day.
Usually my Professional Growth Plan is something I start thinking about mid-September once the year has been kicked into gear. I haven’t thought about it much, because I haven’t taken it very seriously. Or maybe rather, I haven’t had an administrator who has taken it very seriously. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to throw anyone under the bus here. I get that administrators are busy and have a whole lot of other things about schools, students, teachers, etc. to be thinking about. My growth is my responsibility.
I did have one experience when I went to an administrator with a goal, only to be told that I had to change the subject area of my goal (I had written a goal regarding Phys Ed assessment and was told to focus on Language Arts and Social Studies assessment). I was angry and I walked away from that discussion without defending myself or pushing the point – mostly because I could only think of horribly rude, vitriolic things to say. Why ask me to write a growth plan if you want to tell me what my growth plan is? were my thoughts. I changed the goal to read the way the administrator wanted it to…and I never thought of it again.
Now with some significant distance from that situation, I can look at it a little differently. I think, looking back, that my assessment in all subject areas needed revision. I think my principal knew that. I think that it was the process that was flawed. I think that instead of my coming up with a completely selfish goal and bringing it to my principal, we should have sat down together and discussed what we both thought I (we) should be working towards. I think I should have come back to that discussion after the anger had subsided and explained how much I wanted to work on Phys Ed and be more of a leader in my school. I think I should have been more open to focussing on other areas. I think we could have compromised and benefitted everyone.
Tonight an #edchat discussion was held on Twitter about how to properly assess teachers, principals and schools. Unfortunately, I could only participate in quick spurts as I was entertaining my two kids and making supper at the same time (a lesson in multi-tasking or a case of doing an average job of three things?). I did think very seriously about how I would like to be assessed and what an accurate assessment of my success would look like.
Well, I think it would look something like this. My administrators and I sit down and have an open conversation about what my strengths and weaknesses are, what we would like to see improve in my class and how to balance that with areas that I am specifically passionate about. Together, we write two or three goals for the year, making sure to note how these goals will be measured. We would both feel ownership and care about reaching the outcomes. Sharing these goals with my students and their parents would be a powerful way of modelling goal setting and life long learning. Ideally, we would hold follow-up meetings every one or two months. Realistically, we all know that the likelihood of that happening with busy administrators and teachers, is slim. Maybe we could have a “Growth Measurement Team” made up of common grade or subject level teachers where we could discuss our goals and help to hold each other accountable. Meetings with the admin team could happen once in the middle of the school year and then at the end of the school year. At which point we could together write an assessment of my achievement.
Hmmmm…as I read that over, it sounds a lot like writing an IPP for the teacher, doesn’t it?
The only thing I haven’t included that I would like to, is assessment from students and parents. It could be part of the goal measurement to send out formal or informal questionnaires or requests for feedback.
I do know that I will be considering my Professional Growth Plan long before school starts and I will be in a discussion with my new admin team about the meshing of my goals with theirs. I think this will go a long way toward establishing trust and working together.
That’s just what I think…