One of the aspects of my role as Assistant Superintendent is overseeing what the Department of Education refers to as Educator Effectiveness. This includes everything from educator licensure, to mentoring, to educator evaluation and professional development. There have been many great achievements in North Reading during the 2015-16 school year in these areas that I am am happy to share with the community.
All of the educators in North Reading are highly qualified and have content area licenses in their primary area of teaching. Educators work diligently to maintain their licenses by participating in workshops, taking courses, and working to develop curriculum. There have been great
many efforts made at the state level to simplify and clarify the process for educators to obtain and maintain licensure. Our office also maintains a database, called My Learning Plan (MLP), that tracks all of the professional development activities of the educators in the district. Through an approval process the MLP database helps us to provide equity in the opportunities for all staff in North Reading and to maintain the highest levels of professional development for those working with our students.
Of the many aspects of the North Reading programs that I take pride in our mentoring program nears the top of my list. With the guidance of our mentor coordinators, Beth Leavitt, Gina Sacco, and Jessie O’Brien, our program has grown and evolved each year. Teachers new to North Reading are paired with a trained mentor educator in their first year and participate in a two-day orientation program followed by a year-long series of workshops and seminars. In addition, the mentors visit the classrooms of the mentees to provide formative feedback, conduct conferences and check-ins, and help the new educators acclimate to North Reading and, in some cases, the profession.
In 2016-17 we will continue to improve our program by providing additional support to our new teachers in the years beyond their first year and updating our mentor seminars to include school safety, educator evaluation, licensure, and more.
North Reading is finishing its third full year of the new educator evaluation system. Over the past few years we have been learning and growing as a district as we have come to understand the new rubrics and how they help us to identify targets for growth for all educators and administrators. We have worked to develop SMART goals that are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, rigorous, results-oriented, timed and tracked. During these last weeks in May and June educators are busy preparing their binders of evidence to share with evaluators who provide feedback to the eductor on his or her growth cycle. This process, along with a continuous cycle of classroom visits for mini-observations, allows for the educators to receive on-going feedback and provides multiple opportunities for reflection and growth during the process.
This year the educators in North Reading have participated in a great deal of professional development opportunities. Very specific training related to school safety, content area standards, and instruction have all been a part of the offerings during 2015-16. Teachers in the areas of Art, Performing Arts, Health, Wellness, Library/Media and Digital Learning participated in the Northeast Professional Educators’ Network (NPEN) and received content areas professional development. We introduced three North Reading University courses for in-district professional development in the areas of technology and digital learning, special education, and sheltered English immersion. In addition, teachers took many courses offered through partnerships with the Salem Collaborative, SEEM Collaborative, and Primary Source. Nearly our entire administrative team took part in a multi-week Sheltered English Immersion course for Administrators, a course similar to the full graduate level course taken by many of our teachers.
There were also many afternoons led by our curriculum leaders in each content area that allowed the teachers time to collaborate and explore our new Mathematics, English Language Arts and Literacy, and Science, Technology, and Engineering standards and discuss best practices in instruction. The 2016-17 school year will see the continuation of all of these best practices in professional development.
The examples above highlight some of the many areas that the educators in North Reading are supported as professionals who are on a continuous cycle of improvement. Many of our veteran educators are mentors or take the lead as curriculum leaders, team leaders, or facilitators of professional development. We are very proud of the great work going on in our district and of the educators who lead, partake, and reflect upon these many opportunities for growth.