Your results show that your system does not appear to have all the necessary conditions and practices in place to support high-quality teacher professional learning, based on the findings from the case study systems profiled in our report. As you review your results and our suggested next steps, keep in mind that ensuring alignment across the three elements has been one of the keys to success in the systems we studied. In other words, it’s not enough to approach each element in isolation; it’s important to consider how aspects of your practices in one element impact your practices in another.
For example, in our case study systems, there are often very clear ties between how the rigorous curricula being provided, serves as the focus of any expert-led collaboration time, and is used as the basis for growth-oriented feedback practices. Having a tight cohesive strategy across all three elements is what helped our case study systems transform their teacher professional learning.
This diagnostic is not designed to be evaluative—instead we hope the data presented here sparks strategic conversations among your colleagues and highlights ways in which you can develop your system’s particular professional learning strategy. See how your teacher professional learning practices compare to our case study systems, and check out our detailed action steps and suggested resources in the tabs in this results section to help unpack what this might mean for your system.
To support teachers in meeting the new instructional challenges that come with CCRS, leaders in the systems we studied provide comprehensive curricular supports such as daily lesson resources, lesson prep protocols, and formative and interim assessments, that are deeply grounded in the relevant standards and support the needs of a diverse student population.
If your system does not offer a full suite of vetted, high-quality, rigorous curricula and assessments, you may want to consider providing additional materials and guidance for your teachers to support them in making better instructional decisions. See our suggested next steps below.
To vet the alignment of curricula and assessments to ensure alignment to CCRS:
Potential sources of rigorous, CCRS-aligned curricula:
Teachers and instructional experts need time to explore new curricular supports and practice how to use them. Leaders in our case study systems empowered strong teachers to participate throughout curricula adoption and adaption, typically working under the direction of district instructional experts with a stipend provided for their time.
If you find that teachers are struggling to adapt your system-provided curricular resources, you may want to consider ways to engage teachers in helping to develop, evolve, and improve resources over time so that they remain relevant and useable for teachers. See our suggested next steps below.
Good teacher professional learning is specific to the actual, standards-aligned curricula from which teachers teach, which helps them improve instruction. Our case study systems ensured that all professional learning efforts were grounded in high-quality, rigorous curricula and assessments.
If you find that your teachers need more support in delivering standards-aligned instruction, you may want to consider aligning the rest of your professional learning efforts to your curriculum and assessments. See our suggested next steps below.
As much as possible, teachers in the systems we studied work in shared-content teams (i.e. same grade and subject) that meet for 90 minutes each week. During this time, teachers collaboratively plan lessons, analyze the results of common assessments, and adjust instruction, under the guidance of a school-based content expert (i.e., teacher leader, coach, school leader).
To promote and strengthen teacher collaboration in your system’s schools, consider providing supports for school leaders and their teams to organize teachers into content-focused teams. See our suggested next steps below.
While most schools have some type of teaching team, few construct shared-content teams. Ideally, a teaching team includes all educators focused on the same grade and content-based academic standards, including teachers who work with English Learners or students with disabilities. To build shared-content teams, school leaders can:
We estimate that over the course of a year, teachers in your system work approximately 1399 hours less than what we commonly observe and 1419 hours less than in case study systems. You may want to revisit district policies and/or collective bargaining agreements to give your teachers the time required to collaborate without sacrificing student instructional time.
In the systems we studied, teachers spend more time working with their peers and less time in individual planning and/or prep periods. This collaboration by and large occurs within shared-content teams that focus their work around common curricula and assessments.
Teachers in case study systems have at least 90 min of collaborative time each week and 8-10 professional learning days each year to collaborate and work with their teaching teams. Your system currently has 54 fewer minutes of weekly teacher collaborative time and 75 fewer annual professional learning days. You may want to consider restructuring how you use teacher time outside of the classroom to give your teachers more opportunities to collaborate with peers and instructional experts.
Re-work your master schedule to ensure that teaching teams have at least 90 minutes of collaborative time each week, as well as additional opportunities for school-wide collaboration (e.g. monthly data days). Ways to do this include:
Beyond creating time for collaboration, organizing teaching teams, and providing instructional support, case study systems feature structures, systems, and practices that support the effective use of shared planning time and promote ownership and accountability for the outputs of teacher collaboration.
If you are looking for ways to improve the effectiveness of teacher collaboration across your schools, you may want to consider investing in materials and practices to focus teachers’ and experts’ collaborative time. See our suggested next steps below.
Your system offers 24.5 fewer hours of teacher observation and feedback than we found in our case study systems. You may want to consider creating or extending informal observation and feedback cycles so that teachers are engaging with an instructional expert at least once every other week. See our suggested next steps below.
Set expectations for, and ensure schedules enable, regular cycles of observation and feedback: In the systems we studied, teachers receive most of their coaching outside of formal observations and debriefs. Instead, they integrate ongoing cycles of informal observation and growth-oriented feedback so teachers can receive frequent support from instructional experts in the building and build trusting relationships with them.
Instructional experts in your system are asked to support 100% fewer teachers than their peers in our case study systems. The ideal teacher support “load” is 12 to 22 teachers per instructional expert. Although this ratio may vary across schools, leaders in our case study systems work to minimize the variation by creating teacher leadership roles that create opportunities for high-performing teachers and more evenly distribute school-based instructional expertise. See our suggested next steps below
School leaders in your system spend 75% less time supporting instruction than their peers in the systems we studied. Leaders in these systems have redesigned school leader roles, developed more distributed forms of school leadership via teacher leader roles, and even invested in new roles, like “Director of School Operations,” to maximize the amount of time school leaders have to support teachers in improving instruction. Depending on your vision for the principal’s role, you may want to consider restructuring the role of school leaders to enable them to invest the majority of their time and efforts on teacher professional learning. See our suggested next steps below.
College and career-ready standards require coaching that is highly content-specific, embedded in the curriculum that is relevant to a teacher’s grade and subject matter. Traditional leadership models in schools, where the principal and a small number of administrators are charged with providing the majority of instructional expertise, are now unlikely to meet teachers’ needs. Leaders in case study systems have invested in developing high-impact teacher leadership roles that enable school leaders to distribute school-based instructional expertise and ensure that all teaching teams have access to an instructional content expert during collaborative time.
If you’re looking for ways to strengthen school-based instructional leadership, consider our suggestions below on how to create successful, sustainable, and scalable teacher leadership roles that also accelerate teacher and student learning and enrich the teaching career.