Stacey Gauthier, principal of Renaissance Charter High School, and Marc Waxman, who is opening a charter school in Denver, are corresponding about school policy. Read their entire exchange.
I read with great interest your recent post on treating teachers like professionals. I share many of the values you listed and consider most of them to be part of our culture of professionalism at Renaissance, a fully unionized, conversion charter school.
I am very happy to report to you our newest initiative. We are working in collaboration with the United Federation of Teachers to modify our teacher evaluation plan both to bring us into compliance with Race to the Top requirements and to reflect better what an innovative teacher evaluation system can and should look like in a knowledge economy. A knowledge economy requires students to be intellectually skilled, therefore creating a highly educated labor force with a competitive advantage. (For more on this topic, see the 2005 book “Change Leadership: A Practical Guide to Transforming Our Schools.”)
What is particularly exciting is that we have asked our teachers to draft the plan. The road will not be easy especially with the Race to the Top student performance measurements that must be included. Still, in a time when there is so much emphasis on standardized test scores, I believe we have a real opportunity to craft a plan that blends statewide measurements with other indicators of authentic learning. As a K-12 school this is a huge task, but it is one that can be instrumental in measuring teaching and learning over time.
My hope is that a teacher-generated plan will foster strong individual accountability while at the same time promoting collaboration and cooperation among colleagues, core values at Renaissance. Clearly, a plan that one takes part in creating should have buy-in and ownership. Most importantly, any evaluation that values problem identification and self-reflection is one that is sure to support positive change in practice both at the classroom and school-wide levels.
I am confident that the experienced, diverse professionals who comprise this team (selected by their union chapter leader) will think creatively and out-of-the-box. I would like a focus to be on teachers-as-agents of change and leadership. A sound and fair plan combines process and outcomes keeping in mind the necessary professional standards and attributes that must be present to create growth both within teachers themselves and the students they teach.
I look forward to updating you on the progress and challenges.
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