Learning from MindShift's "Listening to Teachers" Story

Be sure to check out MindShift's recent article "Listening to Teachers: How School Districts Can Adopt Meaningful Change," featuring White Mountains Regional School District. You'll find this and other instructional leadership stories on TeachBoost's monthly must-read list.

Here are our favorite bits. 

On preparing to observe teachers after the adoption of a critical skills strategy:

Administrators took the same course as teachers so they’d not only know what to look for in the classroom, but have a common vocabulary to discuss it. “If we don’t monitor it we shouldn’t require it,” [interim superintendent Dr. Gary] Fensom said.

On continuous support of a shared vision for student and teacher success:

White Mountains administrators are continually supporting and coaching teachers to define how the challenges connect to standards and the defined learning objectives. 

On effective teacher observation and feedback practices:

What should administrators be looking for in the teacher of a collaborative problem-based classroom? [Problem-based learning coach Maura] Hart said in this kind of environment teachers should never directly answer a question if possible. Instead they can respond to student questions with their own questions, pushing the student to reflect, think deeper or find the information for himself. Observers can also look for how much students are interacting with each other, instead of with the teacher. It’s a continuum from all-eyes-on-teacher, to all students engaging with one another about the problem.

On student learning vs. teacher PD:

No teacher would expect a student to hear a lesson one time and then go and perform perfectly on a very high-stakes exam. And yet that’s what a lot of professional development for teachers looks like, unless a teacher has consistent coaching to work through issues as they arise.

Consistency, transparency, and a common language for continuous growth and development. Great work, White Mountain!

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