Fort Worth Independent School District | Forth Worth, TX
Teachers are becoming very aware of their strengths as well as the areas they need to improve.Andrew McKenzie TIF Project Director
Instilling a culture of collaboration
Spurred by a Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant implemented at 14 of its schools, Fort Worth Independent School District (ISD) piloted a multi-faceted teacher evaluation and professional development initiative starting in the 2010-2011 school year to improve teacher effectiveness. A committee of teachers and administrators first worked together to research and select a new observation instrument, eventually deciding on Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching (FFT). “We wanted a research-based rubric that would both help ensure fair and reliable teacher evaluations and encourage collaborative, data-driven professional learning conversations across the district,” said Andrew McKenzie, the district’s TIF project director.
Elevating PD with video
In addition to face-to-face group-based professional learning and instructional meetings with coaches and individual teachers, all of which use the FFT as a basis to guide discussion, Fort Worth ISD’s cohort of TIF grant schools decided to elevate their professional development offerings even further with the implementation of video-based observations. Using the Swivl Robot, in conjunction with their iPads, educators capture classroom videos of their own instructional practices and then upload them to Teachscape to receive meaningful feedback, engage in self-reflection, and collaborate and share best practices with their colleagues.
“These technologies have been an asset in allowing our coaches, evaluators and teachers to work together to improve professional practice,” said McKenzie.
Focus on continuous improvement
The video-based observations are also integrated into professional learning communities, as well as training sessions. For instance, an instructional coach can record a specific strategy, such as guided reading or classroom management, and then share it with teachers so they can see an example of the best practice in action. Teachers can then work toward improving their own practice accordingly and reference back to the exemplary teaching practices as necessary.
“Teachers are becoming very aware of their strengths as well as the areas they need to improve. They are now working more actively with their coaches and administrators to hone their craft, receive helpful feedback, and engage in a continuous process of professional learning,” said McKenzie. “As this process has continued to evolve, the feedback we’ve received from educators at the participating schools has been very positive.”