Evaluation ‘Toolkit’ Debuts
Leaders learn to improve teaching skills, prepare for educators for new evaluations
“It’s critical for us to remember that (the UEA Educators Taking the Lead initiative) is about improving classroom instruction and strengthening our profession, as well as assisting teachers with their evaluations,” UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh told UEA leaders from across Utah gathered for an all-day evaluations training. “When teachers work together to improve instruction, they elevate their profession.”
About 150 educators participated in the training which was part of the UEA’s Educators Taking the Lead initiative to strengthen the teaching profession. The Sept. 21 event focused on how the Association leaders can help fellow UEA members understand and master the Utah Effective Teaching Standards and prepare for upcoming statewide evaluations that will eventually be tied to salary schedules. The leaders were also provided with an Evaluation Toolkit that each local association can share with members who attend similar training sessions.
Teachers Dessie Olson, Salt Lake City School District, Gay Beck, Alpine School District, and Signé Balluff, Davis School District, provided those in attendance with an overview of effective teaching strategies.
Olson asked the teachers to create a shoe and “a tool for making dents on a golf ball” out of clay. As participants took different approaches, she explained that “there are different ways to meet the (Utah Effective Teaching) Standards. It’s not just a single process.”
“We each have a unique experience in our classrooms and we each bring different strengths,” noted Olson as she shared information about how knowledge of students impacts teaching. “Demonstrating your knowledge of students is reflected not only in your instructional context, but also in the instructional choices you make as a teacher.”
Beck asked participants to share some effective teaching strategies and categorize them by the domain in which they best fit into the teaching standards:
- Learner and Learning;
- Professional Responsibility; or
- Instructional Practice.
Teachers improve instruction by identifying domains in which they are strong and which need more attention, she said.
“Measuring our practice against the teaching standards reveals strengths and opportunities,” said Olson. “By going through the standards, and keeping student learning at the center, your thinking will shift.”
UEA Director of Organizing and Capacity Building Jenny Okerlund demonstrated the UEA Evaluation Toolkit, designed to help educators continually assess and improve instructional practice, identify professional development needs and take an active role in evaluation and professional growth.
“The Toolkit provides a framework to collect information about a teacher’s classroom, students and professional practice,” said Okerlund. The Toolkit assists teachers in creating a teacher and classroom profile, identifying district supports, creating a log of observations, reflecting on teaching experiences, determining professional development needs and tracking participation in collaborative experiences with other educators, she said.
The training and resources developed under the ‘Taking the Lead’ initiative will be available only to educators who choose to contribute toward the work by joining their professional association.
During the 2013 legislative session the State Office of Education requested $450,000 to implement requirements of the new evaluation framework and train teachers. It was not funded. Where the legislature committed nothing, the NEA, UEA and local associations are committing more than $150,000 to support this training. The training and resources are paid for by, and available to, educators who belong to their professional association. Any licensed educator is welcome to participate by becoming a member of their local UEA affiliate.
The UEA will be providing training, materials and other information to local associations in each school district. Each local association will develop its own plan for how to use the available resources to support the unique needs of educators in each area. Contact the local association for details.