Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

VIVA MET Teacher Leaders: Teacher Collaboration at its Best

February 28, 2013

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting with nine teachers who came to Seattle to share their experiences with the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project and to map a plan for staying involved in the work going forward. They also shared a new report, Reflections from the Classroom, which lays out teachers’ suggestions for supporting effective teaching.

The ideas were generated in an online format called the VIVA MET Teachers Idea Exchange. Some 2,000 teachers in six vastly different public school districts who participated in the MET project were invited to collaborate online and share their perspectives on the study and its influence on their professional practices.  Ten teachers produced the final report based on the input captured during the exchange, ensuring it reflected the wisdom, experience, and opinions of the broader group. It’s an outstanding example of teachers collaborating, owning their practice, demanding the tools and resources they need, and using their voice - all to improve outcomes for students.

The teachers categorized the ideas into four main areas:

  • The importance of creating collaborative partnerships between teachers and those developing the frameworks of effective teaching;
  • The need to create performance assessment systems for teachers and students that are relevant to classroom work;
  • The ways in which we will use these measures as components of overall evaluation and compensation systems;
  • The potential uses of technology and social media for students to grow academically and socially and teachers to develop professionally.

There were many key takeaways from our discussion. I’ll highlight two here, but encourage you to read the full report.

The teachers talked about how powerful it was to see their own instruction on video. The chance to see and hear exactly what their students were doing helped illuminate things the teachers  do well and areas where they could do better. Every teacher said it’s given them specific things to improve upon to become a more effective teacher for their students. The teachers pushed us to think hard about how to use videos to support teacher growth and collaboration, and how the foundation can help make great video resources more widely available to all teachers. We have begun work in this area with the MET Extension Library of Video Practice, and we’re looking forward to sharing those materials later this year.

The group also articulated the need for better formative assessment tools, combined with professional development so teachers know how to use them. They all agreed that regularly using such assessments would help teachers see where students are in their learning, so they can meet them there and course correct as necessary.  We are excited to be making investments in this area, such as the Literacy and Mathematics Design Collaboratives (LDC and MDC). We also think the use of game-based learning has the potential to generate much richer real-time data for teachers about how their students are progressing and what they need next.

This group of MET teachers left us with a lot to think about.  We greatly appreciate their participation in the study over the past four years, and the time they took to share additional feedback with us.

The VIVA MET Teachers Writing Collaborative includes:

Katie Cardus, Nathan Grover, Andria Mitchell, Kwesi Ndzibah, Andrew Neale, Ann Neary, Melony Smith-Wellington, Jim Szewc, Kelly Waller, and Zaneta Williams.

 
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