Pretty Much Anyone? Part I: An Introduction

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Teacher evaluation systems whose primary purpose is the development and support of teachers necessarily employ two processes: measuring teacher practice (MTP) and improving teacher practice (ITP).  ITP often goes by the name Professional Development.

In an ideal world, every developing teacher would be supported by a master teacher-mentor-coach, proficient in the particular content area, grade level, and student demographic that the developing teacher taught.  In reality, however, budgets and logistics demand systems that offer support that is not nearly so individualized.  In many schools a vice principal or instructional coach is responsible to observe and coach all (or a large cluster of) teachers.  Certification courses exist, which aim to “help you build your collaboration, facilitation, coaching, and mentoring skills so you can create effective professional development for teachers” (http://www.waldenu.edu/certificates/professional-development).

The purpose of this series of posts is to distinguish between MTP and ITP and pose the question, “what training or qualifications are required of those who are to carry out these processes?”

Let’s start by differentiating between MTP and ITP.  To oversimplify, the first process asks the question, “What is going on?” and the second process says, “Here’s how to improve what’s going on.”  Any system designed to support the development of teachers needs both processes, arranged in something of a feedback loop.  To oversimplify again, that feedback loop runs something like,

MTP: “I see that your execution of teaching skill X needs improvement.”

ITP: “Here’s how to improve teaching skill X.”

MTP: “I see that your execution of teaching skill X still needs improvement,” or “Your execution of teaching skill X has improved.  I now see that teaching skill Y needs improvement

ITP: “Here’s a different strategy to improve teaching skill X,” or “Here’s how to improve teaching skill Y.

You get the picture.  MTP gathers the information and ITP acts on the information; both processes are necessary in the endeavor to support teachers in their development.

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