CLASS in Springfield public schools | The Chalkboard Project

CLASS in Springfield public schools

Monday, July 8, 2013 Laura Scruggs

Laura Scruggs has worked in education for 21 years including six years as a fifth grade teacher in Bandon and twelve years at seventh grade in Springfield. Currently coordinating the Global Institute for Teacher Advancement, Laura has worked on Springfield's CLASS and TeachOregon teams and is building the Springfield Immersion and Master Teacher programs. Laura is very active in the Springfield Education Association (SEA) and is serving as the Bargaining Chair.

In 2005, a team of teachers and administrators gathered together to overhaul our district’s teacher evaluation process. The goal was to focus our staff on growth and improvement. The team’s efforts set us in the right direction, but the desired cultural shift wasn’t realized.

Then, in 2011, Chalkboard approached Springfield Public Schools about joining the CLASS Project (Creative Leadership Achieves Student Success). The goal of CLASS was to assist staff in examining our district’s approach to professional development, evaluation, career pathways, and compensation in order to support growth in teachers and thereby positively impact student achievement.

The CLASS team was made up of teachers, administrators, leadership, and the SEA and OSEA presidents. At the end of a full-year of meetings and discussions we lit on one important fact: the only “new” we really needed was a venue for sharing—what we needed to create was a culture of growth in which doors were opened, knowledge and skills were shared, and growth was sought and celebrated.

The cornerstone of that vision became the Master Teacher Program—a program focused on identifying skillful teachers who want to share their knowledge and expertise with others while continuing their own learning.

As illustrated in the book The Skillful Teacher, the foundational knowledge of teaching is vast and deep. Teaching is both a science and an art. A teacher’s knowledge of management, instructional strategies, motivation, and curriculum, guides the spectrum of decisions (s)he makes every minute of every day. Master teachers, while consistently displaying proficiency in these areas are elevated by a combination of the following:

A belief in the abilities and value of ALL students;
The expertise to propel students toward proficiency levels above their own expectations;
An ability to inspire curiosity;
A willingness to share, encourage, and promote the profession of teaching;
A personal desire to grow, learn, and be nimble in the profession; and
An aptitude for working with others and building community connections.

After two rounds of applications, Springfield has celebrated twenty entries into the Master Teacher Program. Representing elementary, middle and high school, our participants come from regular, special and alternative education placements. They teach core classes and include counselors, speech pathologists, music and PE teachers, deans of students and teachers on special assignments (TOSAs).

Together we are working on several projects. This summer, participants took a class on preparing professional development. We are presenting our first class to licensed staff in August—a seminar on supporting student teachers—and preparing offerings for the coming school year. Our Advisory Council is scheduling meetings with Springfield’s new superintendent in order to share and discuss current and future happenings in education. The team is also working to institute a “Learning Walks” program along with monthly meetings to focus on classroom practices that work.

It is our goal to expand the program to 80 participants this coming school year and to plan and prepare a week-long “Summer Institute” for next August including strands focused on co-teaching, mentoring and the four foci of The Skillful Teacher – management, instruction, motivation and curriculum.

  • Teacher Leadership
  • General Support
  • Teacher Networks
  • Presentations

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