The Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) Program was implemented in Baltimore County Public Schools at the start of the 2013-2014 school year. A cadre of thirty Consulting Teachers (CTs) was selected to provide differentiated supports to approximately 400 beginning teachers, known as “client teachers” in the PAR Program. A rigorous selection process ensures that the CTs are outstanding teaching professionals and that they are able to communicate their knowledge and strategies about best practices to adult learners.
Consulting Teachers participate in extensive training (more than 100 hours to date) to develop and refine their observation and analysis of teaching skills. Training included the Danielson Framework for Teaching as well as observation, feedback, and reflective conferencing skills. Technical skills for the completion of written reports were also included.
During the first few weeks of the school year, Consulting Teachers met with client teachers and their principals. Relationships were established, needs assessments were conducted, and individualized goals were created. Beginning in October and continuing through June 2014, CTs are observing, mentoring, and coaching their client teachers. The CTs are highly trained observers who script lessons to identify areas of strength and weakness in each of the domains of professional practice as outlined in the BCPS Framework for Teaching. The CTs facilitate reflective conversations and encourage client teachers to reflect on successes and challenges. CTs review client teachers’ progress and growth in written reports and make recommendations to the PAR Panel regarding each client teacher’s effectiveness. CTs collect and share observational data and help client teachers establish the productive professional habits of reflection and self-assessment.
In addition to their daily work with client teachers, Consulting Teachers also serve as instructors for the three credit MSDE/CPD course designed specifically for first-year teachers, “Unraveling the Mysteries of the CIA (Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment). More than 100 first year teachers are registered for this course that meets once per month, October through June.
PAR panel presentations and site visits with CTs reveal evidence of CTs who have embraced their role and are implementing newly-learned skills and processes. In December 2013, an evaluation survey was released to client teachers and principals to ascertain effectiveness of the program, as well as of the Consulting Teachers. Survey data reveals that 90 percent of client teachers responded “agree” or “strongly agree” when asked if their CT provides or directs them to specific resources and strategies which help in planning, implementing the curriculum, and enriching their skills. Of the client teachers who responded, 85 percent report that meetings with their CTs are effective and appropriate in addressing their needs. Comments by client teachers include:
- “My Consulting Teacher is very knowledgeable and patient.”
- “My CT is very approachable and helpful to me as a teacher. I never hesitate to contact her and know that she will be there to help me. I feel very confident knowing that she tells me what I have down well and what I could improve on for next time.”
Survey data also reveals 88 percent of principals responded “agree” or “strongly agree” when asked if the CTs have created an environment of trust and respect with clients and administrators. Comments by principals include:
- “I am pleased with her support of my new teachers.”
- “I appreciate the professional conversations she has had while working with our new kindergarten teacher.”
An additional 15 Consulting Teachers will be hired for the 2014-2015 school year. Teachers new to BCPS without any prior teaching experience will be included in PAR and assigned to a Consulting Teacher. Consulting Teachers will participate in New Teacher Orientation 2014. In addition to greeting new teachers and participating in professional growth activities with the new teachers, CTs will serve as presenters for sessions including Classroom Management and Professional Conduct, and the Teacher Evaluation system. Consulting Teachers will have an ongoing role in the Teacher Induction Program.
The vacancy notice for the Consulting Teacher positions will be posted on the BCPS website at the end of February. Panel interviews will be held in March. All those interested in becoming a part of this exciting program are strongly encouraged to apply.
SUBMITTED BY THE OFFICE OF ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT