District builds a culture of collaborative improvement
A district that exemplifies the collaborative culture that is part of the Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) Framework for Learning Supports is the Humboldt Community School District.
Humboldt CSD is in the fourth year of TLC funding and has built its TLC programming around its focus on Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW). Now in its tenth year of AIW implementation, Humboldt's preschool-through-high school teachers engage in this reflective, continuous improvement process.
“AIW focuses us on improving the quality of teaching to help students develop higher-order thinking, demonstrate conceptual understanding of important disciplinary content, and engage in substantive conversations,” said Tamela Johnson, Humboldt curriculum director. “All of us, whether we’re curriculum leads, mentor teachers, technology integrationists, data coaches, or instructional coaches are looking at teaching and learning through the AIW lens. We’re talking the same language and working toward the same end.”
Through professional learning communities, teachers apply the AIW standards and criteria to score tasks, student work, and instruction. Through this process they develop instructional expertise around a common vision of quality instruction supported by research and aimed at improving academic achievement. Trust grows among team members as they solicit and give descriptive feedback about each other’s teaching.
Following the scoring sessions, teachers use the feedback they’ve received to improve the task or instructional plan. Over time teachers, individually and collectively, become more reflective and apply AIW to everyday classroom practices.
Johnson said that TLC funding has been especially important in allowing the district to send coaches for additional training.
“Building internal capacity has been a huge part of our success,” she said. “We’ve been doing this for a long time and we’re still having great conversations. It’s the wisdom around the table that keeps moving us forward.”