by Debbie Piper, Coordinator, Teacher Development and Support, and Alyssa Alston, Senior Research Writer
Baltimore County Public Schools’ educators are not alone in seeking opportunities to collaborate with their colleagues on instruction. An international survey released in late June found that teachers around the world crave these professional experiences.
In the 2014 BCPS Stakeholder Satisfaction Survey, this issue garnered the least agreement from school-based staff and administrators. Only 53 percent of BCPS school-based staff and 57 percent of school-based administrators agreed with the statement: “I have time available during the school day to collaborate with my colleagues regarding curriculum and instructional practices.” School-based staff included teachers, department chairs, paraeducators and non-instructional staff. School-based administrators included principals and assistant principals.
A related question drew differences of opinion from school leaders and staff. The survey asked whether “teachers and staff at my school have the opportunity for dialogue and planning across grades and subjects.” Sixty-two percent of school-based staff agreed, but this proportion was 82 percent for school-based administrators.
Collaborating across classes and age groups is more common for teachers in other countries, according to the 2013 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) of teachers in Grades 7 to 9. Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed worldwide had this experience, while the American average was 58 percent. The TALIS also found that about half of U.S. teachers reported co-teaching or observing others’ classrooms and providing feedback.
Capitalizing on this key issue, the BCPS created the S.T.A.T. Teacher Program to support every teacher with the knowledge and skills needed to ensure a reflective, learner-centered, personalized, blended environment powered by digital learning. S.T.A.T. teachers are school-based instructional leaders focused on aligning a continuum of collaborative professional development experiences with the school progress plan.
For example, a S.T.A.T. teacher might present new information about a BCPS initiative at a faculty meeting, follow up with small groups of teachers for in-depth discussion and provide feedback and coaching to individual teachers as needed. A plethora of strategies are in the S.T.A.T. teacher’s tool box: analyzing student work, co-planning instruction, modeling best practices, organizing learning walks, peer coaching, lesson studies and continuing education courses.
From informal conversations with teachers between classes to planned one-to-one, small group or whole faculty professional learning, S.T.A.T. teachers will facilitate collaboration and leverage teacher leadership to promote highly effective practices that increase student achievement.
Want to know more?
S.T.A.T. (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow) is the multi-year transformation of BCPS into a complete 21st century digital learning environment to prepare globally competitive graduates. BCPS is first redesigning curriculum in the core content areas to redefine what instruction will look like in a blended learning environment, while placing a stronger emphasis on critical thinking and analytical skills. This transformation is necessary to provide personalized learning to our increasingly diverse student population at a time when the economy requires more from our students for future success. Read the latest news here: http://www.bcps.org/academics/stat/.
The 2014 BCPS Stakeholder Satisfaction Survey gathered more than 40,000 responses from students, parents/guardians, community members, school-based staff and administrators and central office staff. The survey was built around the BCPS Blueprint 2.0 strategic plan focus areas of academics, safety and security, communication and organizational effectiveness. Please view the strengths, growth opportunities and full results here: http://www.bcps.org/teamBCPS/BCPS-2014-Stakeholders-Satisfaction-Survey-Results.pdf.
The TALIS 2013 surveyed teachers in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Four components of professional collaboration were identified: observing other teachers’ classrooms and providing feedback; team teaching; engaging in joint activities across different classes and age groups; and taking part in collaborative professional learning. For more information about the survey, please visit http://www.oecd.org/edu/school/talis-2013-results.htm.