Teacher Evaluation an Inevitable Trend Across the Nation

1 Comment

Nearly two-thirds of states have overhauled policies in the last two years to tighten oversight of teachers, using techniques including tying teacher evaluations to student test scores, linking their pay to performance or making it tougher to earn tenure, according to a report issued Wednesday.

At least 23 states and the District of Columbia now evaluate public-school teachers in part by student standardized tests, while 14 allow districts to use this data to dismiss ineffective teachers, according to the report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, an advocacy group.

“5 Secrets to New Manager Success”

Leave a comment

“5 Secrets to New Manager Success”

by Tara Powers

It doesn’t take very long for most new managers to become disenchanted with their new role. In many cases, I have seen extremely capable “would-be” STAR managers ask to be demoted or quit because there was no plan in place to set them up for success. If you are promoting from within – good for you! Just be sure you follow these important steps to help your new managers get rockin’ in their new role!

  1. Schedule regular check ins. Offer to role-play with them when they have to handle their first difficult performance situation.
  2. Provide them with internal support such as a mentor, coach, or monthly roundtables with other new managers. Present real business case studies where they can discuss and brainstorm ideas on how they would handle.
  3. Help them clearly understand how their previous tactical role will now change. They will be required to do more delegating, team building, relationship building, trust building, following up and checking in. Provide examples of what that looks like when done successfully.
  4. Have a heart to heart conversation with them about their management style, their legacy, and the relationships that they want to build with their team. Discuss strategies and action plans to help them get there.
  5. Invest in them. They absolutely need new information and resources to build their “toolbox”. Offer courses, programs, books, lunch-n-learns on topics pertinent to their new role.  Examples might include delegation techniques, effective follow-up strategies, handling difficult performance situations with professionalism, counseling and coaching, building team trust.

These are simple strategies that you can implement today. In the absence of this type of support, chances are high that your new manager will fail in their position. In the end, the fallout hurts more than just the manager ~ it hurts the bottom line, employees, and your reputation.

International trainer, consultant, and business acceleration expert, Tara Powers partners with organizations interested in aligning their culture with their values and strategy.  If you’re ready to make changes in your business that will make your employees happy AND make you money, check out her valued services at the Powers Resource Center. (303)875-5011

Key to Unlock the Power in your Organization

Leave a comment

Word for the Day

Leave a comment

“The Quality of an Education System Cannot Exceed the Quality of its Teachers and Leaders.”

From a study of the top 25 school systems in the world.  — McKinsey and Company

What is a Case Study

Leave a comment

Case Study

What Is it?

Case based professional development involves using carefully chosen, real world examples of teaching to serve as springboards for discussions among small groups of teachers. A good case is designed for instruction and poses fundamental issues that reach beyond the particulars in the case and motivate ongoing reflection and inquiry.

Why is it important?

Case based professional development is important because:

  • Teachers have opportunities to engage in careful reasoning and to make judgments about what to do based on the predicaments presented.
  • It can help teachers discover ambiguity, conflict and complexity within a deceptively simple teaching situation.
  • It acknowledges that each person brings expertise and will contribute learning to the group.
  • It allows teachers to see that there is always more than one answer to a classroom dilemma.
  • It provides support that many teachers find difficult to obtain in the isolation of their classrooms.

When is it useful?

 Case Studies are used:

  • When educators want to learn and apply new teaching techniques in context.
    • As a job-embedded practice for small groups of teachers to have practice in applying learned instructional theory and strategies.

How is it used?

  • The case to be studied is chosen to either exemplify particular ideas or to provide the opportunity to examine and apply theories in context.
  • In pairs, teachers read the case study and identify issues from the case and frame them as questions. Framing issues as questions stimulates discussion by inviting multiple points of view. Identified facilitator structures the discussion to ensure that the situation is examined to identify what =could be done to impact student learning.

To learn more about case study, examine Harrington, H.I. and Garrison, J.W (1992), The Case for Education: a Dialogical Method of Teacher Preparation. Go to the WestEd web site at http://www.fwJ.org4vestedlresources.hfm!

Professional Book Study

Leave a comment

What is a Professional Book Study (Talk)?

Professional book talks are:

  •  An opportunity for educators to engage in professional discourse around a specific topic of teaching and learning.
  •  Individuals committed to reading and discussing a selected book, guided by the question: “How will this book influence professional practices at both the classroom and school level?”

Why is it important?

A professional book talk is important because:

  • It initiates the opportunity to examine and discuss a professional topic selected by a cohort of peers.
  • It encourages school-wide community dialogue on diverse educational issues that impact student achievement.
  • It maintains staff interest in contemporary issues, topics, programs, and educational theory.
  • It offers the opportunity to constructively contribute to school identified areas of interest.
  • It offers a supportive environment for staff members to engage in job-embedded practices for personal and professional growth.

When is it useful?

  • Professional book talks are used when
  • A group of educators wish to explore a topic in which they all share a common interest.
  •  There is a need to examine and discuss a school-wide issue lending to changing a practice or implementing a new instructional focus.
  • There is a need to bring staff together to examine/study a topic from different perspectives.

How is it used?

  • The professional book talk process includes:
  • Identifying a topic, reviewing and selecting a book for study.
  • Engaging in formal and informal dialogues around specific content in the book.
  • Presenting information from a specific perspective designed by an individual or small group
  • Studying in order to make recommendations to impact instruction for promoting student achievement.

To learn more about Professional Book Talks refer to: Donohue, Z., VanTassel, M. & Patterson, L. (1996). Research in the Classroom Talk, Texts, and Inquiry, Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association.

What is a Book Study?


The term “study group,” according to several Internet resources, is inspired by the classical method of seminars conducted at schools like Oxford and St John’s College.A study group is a collection of individuals who gather together regularly to improve their understanding of some non-trivial subject, such as a body of great literature, by participating in a focused discussion.Individuals meet around a table or in a circle for 1 to 2 hours, and group size varies from 3 to as many as 16 individuals. Group size is limited by space or table size and whether folks can see and hear one another during discussion.The study group organizes and maintains an agenda of readings. Prior to each meeting, participants have read and reflected upon the reading and may come prepared with questions, ideas about, or explanations of the reading.One individual in the group prepares for and serves as guide and moderator for the discussion during each session. This role is often rotated around the group to individuals who are willing to fill the role of moderator.


A study group, as we’ve defined it above, is quite different in form and purpose from a lecture. While there is nothing wrong with lectures, they have a tendency to create passive learning experiences for attendees. If one is interested in simply gathering information, a lecture may be a fine place to do it. But if one really wants to understand something, to discuss and weigh information and determine its implications and situational application – discussion in study groups provides a venue that allows the collective wisdom of the group to learn from and apply the information presented in the materials under study.

While attendees of a lecture may seek information, attendees of a study group seek transformation; they want to make what they study not only something they understand, but something they may use in their everyday lives or work. The study group thus acts as a bridge, helping people move from passive to active learning. The group’s dialogue revolves around getting to a better understanding of the issues presented, the applications of the material to personal and professional experiences, and the implications of the information for consideration as the participants apply it to their lives and/or work.

Suggestions for Leading a Study Group


The Moderator’s Responsibility

A moderator must shape and guide the discussion. A moderator must also ensure that others have listened to and understand their insights and contributions to the discussion. However, it is not necessary for a moderator to be an “expert” on the material selected for a group’s study session.Preparing for a Study Session

The moderator reads the material to be discussed, identifies the most important information, create an outline for the discussion and may prepare some questions to invite participants to reveal their insights from their reading, tie the information to personal and professional experience and identify the implications and application of the information to their daily lives and/or work. The moderator identifies his or her own impressions of the main ideas to be derived from the information. The moderator then generates examples of personal and/or professional experiences that made the information personally real and meaningful. The moderator develops some ideas about the implications and application the information to daily life and/or work – in this case, to teaching and learning in the classroom. While the moderator’s role is to provide participants with opportunities to surface this same thinking from the group, having his or her own thoughts “in reserve”, allows the moderator to keep the discussion going when it wanes.

Remember the moderator should not do too much talking on the day. You are to guide the group discussion not teach the group. Insights that you have received during your own study can either be mentioned along the way (if no one else has mentioned them) or used to prompt the discussion forward.

Leading a group is not as easy as it sometimes looks. Try to keep the group discussion focused on the main points. You will be amazed at how easy it is for the group to drift off course and start discussing things totally unrelated to the topic in question.


Some people have a tendency to do more talking than others do. There is no harm in this as long as other people are not denied the chance of talking because of them. However make sure the person or people doing the most talking are not going off point.

When leading a group pay attention to body language. Some people just speak out. Others either raise their hands in an attempt to speak or just look at you seeking attention to speak. Those who just speak out tend to do more talking. Do not be afraid to ask them to give way to the person raising his/her hand (or giving off any other signal).

Where someone has not spoken at all during the course of the discussion you can ask him or her (politely) directly if they have anything to contribute.


The time allocated to the studies should be known to everyone before the discussion begins. This can vary. It depends on how much you have available. However, this will be one of the hardest parts of the task of being a moderator. Staying on topic and keeping track of time. While there is little value in rushing these studies, it is important for the group to learn to express their ideas succinctly and as briefly as possible so that many ideas can be expressed and discussion does not get bogged down. Watch your time and keep the discussion moving. Yet balance the time when good discussion and important issues are flowing. Make sure everyone has time to do the closing activity involving a reflection on their learning and a commitment to try something from this learning before the next session.

Groups of 8 and no more than 10 or 12, make a good size to manage for a study group. This gives each person in the group adequate opportunity to contribute to the discussion and feel ‘heard.”

PBS Sample