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Teacher Supports

Are teachers happy in your school? Teachers’ job satisfaction often grows out of feeling supported through engaging and thoughtful professional learning, and opportunities to collaborate with fellow teachers 

Teacher Collaboration

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is a progress, and working together is success. Henry Ford

When teachers come together, innovative things happen. Unfortunately, there are not enough opportunities for teachers to collaborate either within or between disciplines and grades. But successful schools find a way to intentionally carve out time within school schedules for teachers to share, learn, and motivate one another. 

Let’s take a look at a school in Chicago where teacher collaboration fosters a supportive professional culture, lessens teacher conflict, and provides students with school-wide best practices. As you watch, consider what collaborative opportunities your school offers and if there are opportunities for more.

Professional Learning (PL)

One clear way to support teachers and their instructional practice is to design a targeted professional learning plans that take into consideration teacher, student, and school needs, while respecting teachers’ previous knowledge and experiences.

Thoughtful professional learning that leads to changes in instructional practice does not happen over night. Building teachers’ knowledge base is just the first step in a professional support cycle. Yet, how do you know what to prioritize when designing a professional learning plan? Here are two essential considerations:

  1. Needs Assessment: Use student data, surveys of students, parents, and teachers, classroom observations, and chats with faculty, your school’s vision, and district priorities to determine what areas need to be the point of focus now versus areas of learning that can take place in future years.

  2. Goals: Consider short-term and long-term goals for professional learning. County or district mandates and the results of your needs assessment should guide this discussion.

Once you’ve gathered your data and analyzed strengths and area of need, it is time to develop a professional learning plan. It’s helpful to consider the levels of support that anchors and then guides teachers’ learning (e.g., Are follow-up coaching or peer learning groups available? Are there additional learning opportunities throughout the year?). These are important considerations as you develop a data-driven professional learning plan.

Assessing your professional learning system

How do you know if your professional learning is really having an impact? Typically teachers are asked to fill out surveys at the end of a training but does that data really convey if the professional learning is transferring to positive shifts at your school or in your classroom? When considering how well a professional learning system is working, it’s important to assess not only teacher outcomes (e.g., “I feel more confident about teaching literacy skills.” “I’m very happy working in my school,.”) but student (e.g., growth on motivation and SEL surveys; student achievement scores improve) and school outcomes (e.g., fewer behavior referrals; absenteeism has decreased; school culture has changed) as well.