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Initiatives: Teaching Quality

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Teaching Quality: Reimagining Professional Development for Teachers

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The most important factor in student achievement is what teachers know and do. Washington STEM's teaching quality initiative, including STEM-PD, is reimagining professional development for teachers.

Teachers are the most important factor in education. Therefore, preparing teachers with effective professional development to increase teaching quality is critical. This is especially true now in light of new math and science learning standards adopted by the state of Washington. Despite the $300 million spent per year on teacher professional development in Washington, teachers report that they do not feel prepared to teach students to meet the demands of these new standards. Logistical challenges, such as time and money, are the primary reasons that teachers do not receive the types of experiences that we know make professional development effective.
Washington STEM launched an initiative called STEM-PD in 2013 to equip teachers with technology from IRIS Connect and the supporting tools and resources to overcome these logistical challenges. The technology enables teachers to have high-quality professional development and take control of their own learning.
Currently in its third year, we are collaborating with educators in 42 schools across Washington to integrate this technology into schools’ existing professional development activities.
Key findings:
Deeply integrating video into the professional learning process is challenging and requires:
  • Systemic support to provide teachers with the necessary time and resources
  • Clarity of professional learning goals
  • A culture of learning and trust where teachers are able to share their teaching with their peers to provide and receive feedback that helps them meet their professional learning goals
  • Careful attention to “change management”
The technology is enabling teacher professional development that aligns with what the research shows is necessary to make it effective. So far, the schools involved have recorded more than 2,000 videos (600+ hours) of classroom teaching. They have watched, shared, and analyzed these videos hundreds of times.
Participating teachers have been able to:

  • see models of effective, standards-aligned instruction
  • to reflect on and analyze their teaching
  • to reflect and collaborate on their teaching within their professional learning communities
  • to receive ongoing feedback and coaching
71% of participating teachers say that they believe that the quality of their PD has improved as a result.
Here’s more of what the educators involved are saying:
For details about the outcome of the STEM-PD initiative, download the Phase I and Phase II evaluation reports.
What’s next?
The Innovation team at Washington STEM is assembling a Video Professional Learning Toolkit, scheduled to be widely available later in 2016. This free, online resource will provide detailed, practical information for educators that want to integrate video into their professional learning. 

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