On Religion, The Media and Life as a 20-something in Chicago

ELGIN — The New York Giants couldn’t have won the Super Bowl without Tom Coughlin. That’s the team’s coach, who has led the Giants to two Super Bowl wins in four years. Now School District U46 is hoping coaches also can help struggling teachers within the second-largest school district in Illinois. U46 and Elgin Teachers Association officials presented the first stage of a Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) program at last week’s U46 Board of Education meeting. “We have a shared goal with the ETA to make sure every student has an effective teacher, and PAR is really to support those struggling teachers,” U46 Superintendent Jose Torres said. That’s because “One of the things we know is the most important factor in student achievement is the teacher in the classroom,” said Andrea Erickson, U46 coordinator of Teacher Effectiveness Initiatives. The PAR program — developed in collaboration with the National Education Association Foundation Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning — will pair struggling third- and fourth-year teachers with peer consulting teachers, starting next school year. Each peer consultant not only will coach those teachers but also evaluate them and help their principals determine whether to dismiss them. U46 is one of 11 school districts nationwide invited by the NEA Foundation to be part of the Institute for Innovation in Teaching and Learning’s first cohort, according to the foundation’s website. Each of those districts has identified issues most critical to their students and has committed to work together with their teachers unions to improve the quality of education for their students. Fitting goals The Elgin district chose the PAR program because that’s a plan that fits into both U46’s and its teachers union’s goals, ETA President Kathryn Castle said. And it lends itself to new teacher evaluation requirements under Illinois Senate Bill 7, passed in June, she said. The education reform bill requires principals to evaluate teachers as “unsatisfactory,” “needs improvement,” “proficient” and “excellent,” according to Erickson. Those evaluations can be used to determine a teacher’s tenure — as well as dismissal. Evaluations for the current school year will be completed March 15, and teachers with a “needs improvement” rating will be required to complete some professional development at the discretion of those teachers and their principals, Erickson said. One such professional development program they can choose is PAR. “We think of it in terms of continuous improvement and growth for teachers — and for teachers who don’t continuously improve, opportunities to move on,” Torres said. The idea of coaching, at least, isn’t entirely new to the Elgin school district, according to Tony Sanders, U46 chief of staff. “We’ve had for years a very successful Teacher Mentor Program. We give this support to most of our teachers who are new to teaching or to our district,” Sanders said. For the rest of the story, visit The Courier-News. Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

U46 plans to team up more coaches with teachers (Sun-Times Media)

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