TELL Delaware Highlights Positive Trends and Areas of Need

April 11th, 2013

Category: News, Policy and Practice

Survey results released today from the inaugural TELL (Teaching, Empowering, Leading, and Learning) Delaware study highlight that Delaware educators have favorable beliefs around areas such as professional expectations and handling student misconduct while voicing a greater need to be at the table when making critical decisions. The survey, administered by the New Teacher Center as part of the state’s Race to the Top initiative, is meant to gauge educators’ thoughts around various conditions that impact their working environment and overall effectiveness.

Last time we mentioned the survey, we highlighted that potential topics covered include issues of time, facilities, resources, community support, professional development, and managing student behavior (among others) and that we were anxious to see the results. So what did educators throughout the First State have to say?

For starters, a significant chunk of teachers reported that they were held to high standards and received feedback that helps them improve their practice – which could demonstrate that DPAS II is starting to have a positive impact on the day-to-day experiences of our students and teachers. Second, teachers reported that they are viewed as leaders within their buildings and encouraged to pursue leadership roles, showing both the need and desire to provide more robust and meaningful paths for instructional leadership that keeps our best inside classrooms. Third, educators stated that professional development opportunities are aligned with the school’s improvement plan, are data driven, and enhance practices within classrooms – which could prove to be a positive sign for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).

While those results are positive, educators did express discontent with a few key areas, which include:

  • Educators feel that they don’t have enough time to meet the needs of their students;
  • Not only do educators feel that they don’t have enough time, but that when they do, they aren’t assigned to work with classes that maximize their likelihood of success – which probably compounds the problem of time since they must spend more time preparing for class; and
  • Educators expressed discontent at that level of influence on decision making within the school.

So what does this mean? For starters the results of the survey aren’t the end, rather the beginning. In the coming days and weeks, the website will feature tools that districts and schools can utilize to facilitate conversations around their teaching and learning conditions and how to use that information to inform school improvement planning. Second, in areas where teachers have expressed discontent, there are opportunities to mitigate these problems – through ideas such as incorporating technology to help teachers plan and instruct students and reorganizing the school day to provide not only more learning time for students, but also opportunities for collaboration and preparation for teachers.

In the end, the survey is only as good as we make it. Hidden in each schools’ response lies an opportunity for principals, teachers, and central office staff to come together, have open and honest conversations about what’s working and what isn’t, and craft a plan to help the school move forward to the benefit of the students – one in which we hope every school with available data takes advantage of.

Brett Turner



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