TeacherSquared Teacher Educator Institute 2018: Using Data to Improve Novice Teacher Practice
by Kia Turner
This blog post is brought to you by a guest writer, Dr. Kia Turner, a resident clinical coach at Kansas City Teacher Residency. In this post, Dr. Turner shares her experiences at the most recent TeacherSquared event, the Teacher Educator Institute: Using Data to Improve Novice Teacher Practice from May 7-9, 2018 in New Orleans, where 50 teacher educators from across the country gathered for three days of learning, sharing, and collaboration.
“Every system is designed to get exactly the results that it gets.”*
This quote rings true for me and as a participant in TeacherSquared’s Teacher Educator Institute 2018, is a call to continually examine my practices and their results. This is my first year as a Teacher Educator and my first exposure to multi-organization professional development centered around the intricacies of this work. I have to admit that having been to a few “professional development” conferences over my career, my expectations weren’t high when I arrived in New Orleans. My background is exclusively in education and I attained certification through the traditional four year university route. Having spent more than a decade in the classroom as a secondary ELA teacher, I had several initiatives aimed at improving practice introduced to me with little support or meaningful impact. At the end of this three-day institute I realize that not only has this development experience inspired me to improve my practice, I am walking away with a greater sense of connectedness and agency than ever before. Ultimately I am taking away the following ideas that I plan to use to push myself even when this is finished.
As I said, this is my first year as a Teacher Educator and my first time learning of the multitude of organizations that are doing the same kind of work developing novice teachers across the country. We always tell classroom teachers not to “reinvent the wheel” - the same is true of Teacher Educators. When I make the deliberate choice to tap into the network of other organizations doing this same work, I make it easier to give the issues I face with novice teachers a new lens. I now have people I can reach out to who have resources I haven’t considered and more years of experience in the work.
Our workshops did not allow me to take a pass on what needed to change in my professional practice. As facilitators, Liam and Kaycee of TeacherSquared probed all of us to think of solutions that were within our locus of control and then to take that a step further and brainstorm specific time bound actions that could be implemented upon my return to work. This was different from professional development as I have experienced it. I went in to this experience expecting to take copious notes on a series of powerpoints; instead, I was forced to engage with model case studies, group discussions, and role plays that demonstrated to me how much of my practice I do control and am required, by virtue of my organizational mission, to examine closely.
Thinking about taking ownership of my professional practice built in me a sense of agency. We looked at case studies so similar to my current experiences that I had no choice but to view what appeared to be insurmountable problems in a new light. I had to ask myself about the efficacy of my data collection and question the alignment between my stated expectations and data collection tools. This data-focused alignment based change in thinking is one of the most powerful outcomes of my time at this conference.
Ultimately this conference has shown me that there are no pat answers to teacher development. As Teacher Educators, we are all working with our own unique contexts and constraints. What we have in common is an ability to hold teachers to a clear standard and use data to evaluate our collective improvement efforts. Truthfully, we are all in this work because we believe that the children served by our teachers deserve highly effective instructors. We believe that if we can move the needle with teachers by developing ourselves, holding them to high expectations, and using data to determine equity/efficacy we can have an amplified impact on student learning. There is no issue more pressing than that one. Considering that, the TeacherSquared logo is the perfect depiction of why conferences like this are so important. A small group of teacher educators impacts a bigger group of teachers and they in turn impact a very large group of kids. What convenings like this provide is insight into components of a measurable system for teacher evaluation orchestrated to get the outcomes that our organizations set out to achieve - highly prepared, mission-driven teachers emerging from our programs. That alone is reason enough to keep convening and using data to refine our practice. We all want to be a part of a system intentionally designed to truly change traditional educator preparation results, and we can be if we keep talking.
*Deming, W. Edwards. (2008).
About the Author
Dr. Kia Turner
Resident Clinical Coach
Kansas City Teacher Residency
Dr. Kia Turner Ed.D is a Resident Clinical Coach with the Kansas City Teacher Residency. After more than a decade in the classroom as a secondary ELA teacher and Instructional Coach, Kia uses her free time to travel the country interviewing educators about their practice, blog and vlog about professional learning opportunities for teachers who may not have access to them, and take her daughter to karate. She is a Kansas City native and advocate for equity in education both for teachers and students. If you would like to hear more from Kia, follow her blog at https://toadminwithlove.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @DrKiaCoaches.