Stafford Municipal School District, just outside the Houston metroplex, is using a staff development plan that is producing positive and visible results. Partnered with Stetson and Associates, the district has focused on literacy instruction along with content instruction in all secondary classrooms. Here is how it works.
A consultant from Stetson & Associates, Inc. offers direct instruction of a strategy during teachers’ conference periods followed by two days of modeling the strategy, first in a middle school, then in a high school classroom. During a conference period, teachers observe one of the model lessons. They use a specially designed format to collect data on what the associate says or does related to the strategy and evidence of its impact on student learning.
Toward the end of the lesson, the associate meets in the hall with the observers reflecting on “what went well with the lesson” and “what I’d change to teach it again” then listening to the data that was collected. Here, observers have a chance to share their observations regarding the teacher’s actions that visibly impacted student learning and discuss how they will adapt the strategy to their own teaching. This is a critical part of the plan as school administrators have asked that every teacher use the strategy on a given day during the next week and have scheduled observations that complete the four-day round of staff development.
As mentioned, the moment in this model that holds the greatest potential for authentic teacher growth follows initial instruction and observation of the strategy used in a classroom setting. It is during this hallway reflection that many educators make the personal connection of the impact of a teacher’s actions on student learning.
Stafford MSD’s investment is secured by involving their administrators in all phases of the training and by holding both teachers and administrators accountable for documenting the visible impact of the strategy on student learning. The model demands a common focus of all professional staff as observed by one teacher during the reflection of a model lesson, “This is great! We’re all working together on the same thing to help our kids!”