Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How are teachers evaluated at JWP?

Recently I wrote a blog post about how principals are evaluated at JWP.  This post will be dedicated to discussing how JWP teachers are evaluated.  I will attempt to cover all bases and follow up should I miss any steps.

At the beginning of the school year each building principal meets with their teachers on an individual basis.  During this preliminary meeting, teachers set SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound).  These SMART Goals become the focus of their professional improvement during the school year.

Throughout the school year teachers collect evidence that supports their development in achieving their SMART Goal.  Evidence may include the following artifacts:

·      Dashboards
·      Data folders
·      Projects
·      Portfolios
·      Rubrics
·      State standardized test results
·      Literacy tests
·      MAPs tests
·      Power standards
·      Math tests
·      Presidential fitness test
·      Classroom climate
·      Student data logs
·      Surveys

As teachers collect evidence, they are asked to place it into their learning logs.  The learning logs are documents that are ongoing journals of communication between the principals and teachers.  These logs are meant as two way communication between the principals and teachers as walkthroughs and observations take place.

An important component of our evaluation system is the observation.  All observations are unannounced.  Meaning, our principals simply show up to observe instruction.  After an observation, teachers schedule a meeting with their principal to discuss the overall observation.  During those discussions, areas of improvement and strength are highlighted.  New teachers (two years of experience and under) receive three observations annually while those with three or more years of experience receive one observation annually.

We look at the following during an observation:

Professional Responsibilities
The teacher demonstrates high ethical standards and a genuine sense of professionalism by:
·       Engaging in reflection on instruction
·       Maintaining accurate records
·       Communicating frequently with families
·       Engaging in professional development
·       Participating in a professional community
·       Aligning with building and district priorities
·       Demonstrating professional relationships
·       Understanding the 21st Century Learner
·       Aligning personal practices with building and district practices and values
·       Valuing the spirit of feedback, both giving and receiving for the individual and collective growth

Planning and Organization
The teacher demonstrates excellent planning and organization for student success by:
·       Creating plans that reflect solid understanding of the content, the students, and available resources
·       Writing instructional outcomes that represent focused learning suitable to most students
·       Aligning planning and preparation with formative assessment practices
·       Designing short and long-range instructional plans based on Essential Learning Targets and Success Criteria
·       Developing and utilizing a variety of assessments
·       Using assessment data as a basis for instruction
·       Ensuring that instruction is consistent with school district priorities
·       Planning for time for self reflection

The teacher demonstrates command of instruction by:
·       Possessing a solid understanding of content that can be expressed in many different ways
·       Utilizing content knowledge to ensure student learning
·       Instructing based on RtI and formative assessment practices
·       Engaging students in learning as a result of students having clarity of target
·       Successful use of questioning and discussion techniques
·       Implementing activities and assignments that are of high quality and clearly connected to the target
·       Creating a classroom where teacher and students make productive use of assessments
·       Responding to classroom formative assessment by modifying instruction based on students’ understanding and performance
·       Providing effective feedback that elicits improvement in student performance
·       Utilizing technology to empower students

Classroom Environment
The teacher demonstrates management of an excellent classroom environment by:
·       Valuing students as individuals with unique strengths and needs
·       Creating a classroom environment that functions smoothly, with little or no lost of instructional time
·       Having high expectations for student learning
·       Ensuring that interactions among individuals are respectful
·       Maintaining expectations for student conduct that are clear, such that the physical environment supports learning
·       Establishing a culture of learning that provides a safe environment for risk taking
·       Applying sound disciplinary practices in the classroom

At the end of the school year the teacher and principal have a closing conversation to determine which track each teacher will be assigned.  The substance of this meeting is a conversation focused on the learning log, evidence of reaching SMART goals, and student achievement data.  Based on this conversation, teachers will fall into either the Growth Track or the Intensive Track.

The Growth Track simply designates that a teacher has reached their SMART goal, students have grown academically, and observations of the teacher were successful.  The Intensive Track designates that a teacher has not reached their SMART goal, students have not grown academically and/or areas of improvement were identified during instructional observations.  In the Growth Track, teachers will set new goals to develop their practice.  In the Intensive Track, teachers develop an improvement plan that is closely monitored the following year.  Ultimately, if improvement is not realized in the Improvement Track phase, the potential of being released from employment is present.

In summary, the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School District has an effective evaluation process in place for teacher development.  Our process was developed over the last two years with a variety of stakeholders.  This will be the first year that full implementation of this process will be realized.  Should you ever want to discuss this process, please contact me directly.

Why I Love My Job

At the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) Conference on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Heidi Hahn speak about research she recently conducted.  Heidi is the Special Education Director at the Paul Bunyan Education Cooperative in Brainerd, MN.  Dr. Hahn was awarded the Richard Green Scholar Award by MASA for her research on teacher satisfaction and its relationship to effective schools. 

At the end of Heidi's presentation of her research she asked us the following question (in my words): Do you love your job?  If so, why?  I took this as a challenge and have decided to answer this question in a public format so that you all can learn how I feel about my job as the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Superintendent.

In short, yes, I do love my job.  However, a simple yes or no is not sufficient when answering this question.  It is important to share why I love my job.  In all likelihood I will forget to mention all of the reasons I love it, but my intent is to put my best foot forward.

Here it goes...

1.  Without question, I love my job because the focus of my work is on our students.  The update of the baseball field is to keep our students safe while participating.  Our kitchen updates and securing our school building will be advantageous to our students.  The paved parking lot provides our students with a safe space to park their cars while they engage in a day filled with learning.  Setting the budget is always done with the students at the center of our decision making.  I have a strong passion for making a positive impact on students and am thrilled I have an opportunity to do it at a macro level in our great district.

2.  I love my job because our entire staff is filled with passion to do the work they do on a daily basis.  Each day as I walk around the building I see the staff's enthusiasm for doing the work they do.  All of our staff members have a firm understanding that no matter what role they play in our school building, they have an impact on our students.  It is important to our staff to provide a positive impact on each student in an effort to leave a lasting impression.  To be frank, it is humbling to work around so many adults that want to see our extraordinary students accomplish extraordinary things. 

3.  I love my job because our families are so supportive.  In rural communities, such as ours, you see this support at its pinnacle.  Simply attend an fine arts or athletic event and you'll see our families love for this school district and the work their children do within our four walls.  To attend one of these events you will see the true power of supportive families. 

4. I love my job because we have great support from our three communities and business communities as a whole.  Members of our communities support us with their confidence and kind words.  In many cases our communities have supported us financially which has allowed us to experience and partake in continuous improvement efforts.  Many of our community members and business community have donated goods and services to improve our school.  We are all very fortunate to experience the generosity of our three communities.

5.  I love my job because I get to see continuous improvement take place on a daily basis.  I have the opportunity to watch students celebrate academic, emotional, and social success.  I am allowed the opportunity to watch our staff develop their practice in all areas of our school community.  Seeing school improvement take place first hand is an amazing benefit of my job.

As I mentioned earlier, I wouldn't be able to cover everything and this is only a start.  What I have really picked up on this week is to value what we have.  We have it nice in our three communities, and I am honored to lead the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School District. 

I love my job!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How are Principals Evaluated?

Principals have a variety of hats to wear as they conduct their work on a daily basis.  There are several items they are responsible for in their buildings and work hard to do their very best in all their efforts.  Each building principal is extensively evaluated on a yearly basis.  Principals are evaluated on the following items:

Performance Measure #1: Establish a vision and mission focused on shared goals and high expectations.

Performance Measure #2: Provides instructional leadership for high student academic performance.

Performance Measure #3: Manages human resources for quality instruction and professional growth.

Performance Measure #4: Builds professional and ethical relationships through collaboration and effective communication.

Performance Measure #5: Strategically manages resources for systemic performance accountability.

Under each one of those performance measures there are 8-10 subcategories that directly relate to each measure.  Principals meet with me throughout the calendar year to provide evidence that support their growth in each area.  They set specific SMART goals at the beginning of each year and their progress is monitored.

At the end of each evaluation cycle, principals fall in one of two tracks for improvement.  The first track is continuous improvement.  When principals are in this track they have essentially met all of their SMART goals and will set new goals for the upcoming school year.  The second track is the remediation track.  In this track, principals are coached and provided with support to reach previously set goals.  The premise of our evaluation system is to ensure our principals continue to improve their practice.  It is our goal to have high quality principals leading our buildings.

Should you have any specific questions regarding our evaluation process, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Washington D.C. Trip

On Tuesday, September, 16, 2014 I began an advocacy trip to Washington D.C.  This trip was with three other superintendents, two special education directors and the MASA executive director.  We were able to meet with all of our state legislators and the United States Department of Education.  Our group discussed a variety of educational topics with these folks in an effort to improve current legislation. 

The following topics were emphasized:

1. Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  Many of you know this as the former No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  Our message was to simply reauthorize it in the near future so that states and local districts can move forward with accountability practices.  Right now the state of Minnesota is under a waiver granted by the United States Department of Education.
2. Reauthorization of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Again, our message was to reauthorize in the near future.  We are looking for alignment between ESEA and IDEA.  There is also a piece of IDEA we'd like to see adjust which is known as Maintenance of Effort (MOE).  We are simply looking for flexibility.
3.  Carl Perkins Grant - We receive some federal dollars for Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses in our high school.  The federal government continues to add hoops to jump through in order to secure those funds.  We have asked that they streamline accountability measures so that our focus can be on the classroom as opposed to administrative paperwork.
4. Title I & II - Right now through Title allocations we are required to set aside equitable funds for non-public schools.  For our district that is between $17,000 and $19,000 annually.  The loss of those dollars presents a challenge for us to meet the needs of all our learners.  We would like some reform in this area so that we can continue to serve all children of our district while still providing us with the necessary resources to accommodate the learners in our building.
5. Title III - As our state grows more diverse, we need support to meet the needs of our english language learners.  State demographers predict that the Mankato area will experience a 150% increase in diverse populations over the next 20 years.  We need to be adequately prepared for this change in demographics.  Therefore, the promise of Title III funding for EL populations is extremely necessary.

Obviously the federal government is focused on other topics but we wanted to be sure they were aware of the challenges we encounter in public education.  This was an excellent trip to advocate for our school community.  If you would like to visit more about this, please do not hesitate to contact me. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

How is Curriculum Adopted?

The Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School Board adopted a curriculum review process during the 2012-2013 school year.  This adoption was an effort to ensure our teachers are provided with the most recent, research-based, curriculum to deliver instruction to our students. 

Our school district's curriculum review cycle looks like the following:

Year One
Year Two
Year Three
Task: Form curriculum committee
Who: Curriculum Director & Principals
When: October
Task: Professional development (as needed) to implement new curriculum
Who: Faculty
When: August
Task: Survey Staff Members Impacted
Who: Faculty
When: October
Task: Review/share current practice and relevant data
Who: Committee Members
When: November
Task: Board report
Who: Committee members
When: December-January
Task: Board report
Who: Committee members
When: October
Task: Standards & Best Practice Research
Who: Committee members
When: November
Task: Order additional materials/schedule development as needed
Who: Committee members
When: February
Task: Review and evaluate overall program
Who: Committee members
When: April-May
Task: Selection of Resources
Who: Committee Members
When: February/March

Task: Board Report
Who: Committee members
When: April/May

School Year
Media Technology/FACS
Reading/Language Arts
Art/Music/Foreign Language
Media Technology/FACS
Social Studies/Vocational Education
Art/Music/Foreign Language
Media Technology/FACS
Reading/Language Arts
Social Studies/Vocational Education
Art/Music/Foreign Language
Reading/Language Arts
Social Studies/Vocational Education

Last school year we implemented new math and reading curricula.  This school year, we are implementing a new science curriculum.  We will review Media Technology and Family and Consumer Science curricula this year with the hope of implementation in 2015-2016.  We are pleased with our process and the guarantee that our teachers are provided with effective resources to educate our students.

When new curriculum is adopted, our teachers are charged with the responsibility of ensuring they master the content and develop highly effective delivery methods.  Teachers work diligently to master each new curriculum and deliver it with integrity.  We are proud of the work they do throughout each adoption process!