Customized Solutions for K-12 Educators
We recently began work with Wapato Middle School, and I had a chance to catch up with Linda Heade, the SIF at WMS, so she could give me some feedback about how the early stages of their implementation have been progressing. I thought I’d share our exchange – I was particularly interested in her feedback around why the program has been successful.
What made you decide to have teachers in your district participate in the Teachers Institute?
The decision to pursue this initiative was a collective one made by the three School Improvement Facilitators assigned to the middle, high, and alternative high school. Per the orientation and research shared over the past two years during SIF trainings, we agreed that Powerful Teaching & Learning is most appropriate to address the challenge of improving instructional practice from grade six through high school. We felt strongly that the secondary teachers needed to gather together, focus on the same data driven research and instructional protocol, develop common instructional language, and begin to build a bridge of collaboration and communication between buildings. One of our goals was to build secondary PLCs around PTL that would begin to build teams and develop relationships between levels.
Also, an added benefit to organizing this PTL experience for all secondary teachers would allow them to mix when on their site visits, as well as in the 12 hours of training, if they chose to do so. Conversations and interactions were richer during trainings as a result of combining the three schools.
Describe their experience, what has been the impact on teaching and learning as a result of their participation? What did they gain by participating and how will it support the district’s learning goals?
Comments reflected enthusiasm for the 4 domains of effective teaching practices (STAR) and implementation in their classroom of specific strategies/tools they clearly observed during site visits and/or trainings, etc. Improvement of instructional practice is identified in the SI plan for WMS. The STAR protocol clearly aligns with and supports this target that applies to ALL teachers.
Can you give examples of how things are different as a result of their participation?
PTL is now discussed at the SILT meetings by those SI leaders who are in the cadre. Principal and SILT are addressing what should be put in place to sustain this momentum and encourage next level of training so that a strong cadre of “trainers” will be available within the middle school.
Why was the training so effective? What sets it apart from other trainings and do you anticipate teachers continuing to work together and improve instruction as a result?
I believe that the success of this training is based upon:
- Quality orientation of PTL and STAR that addresses readiness to benefit prior to teacher commitment to the process
- Current, well researched data consistently included and aligned within all segments of PTL
- Quality training (initial & follow-up) provided by a highly skilled and currently practicing teacher…increases trust and credibility!
- Site visits with coaching provided for effective debriefs
Did you get your money’s worth? Would you recommend the training to others? Who and why?
Yes. I would suggest that school’s have the option of participating in a second visit, if they chose to do so. Subs are such an issue in our district.
Anything else you think others should know?
I would like to compliment the leadership of PTL, Alison Olzendam and Heather Knight, for their exemplary service that went beyond what is normally provided by program administrators. Alison’s excellent orientation that addressed “readiness to benefit” was the initial “key that unlocked the doors of passivity”. Her orientation was supported by strong, well organized, and high energy trainings by Heather Fox and positive and productive coaching provided by Kathi Christensen. Heather Knight’s immediate response to any challenges or special needs over the past 7 month has been most appreciated.
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