Heads Up

Welcome to Heads Up, a blogging experiment that aims to: 

  • connect the people, parts, and principles of Durham Academy;
  • share ideas about learning and human development;
  • spotlight a few of the many wondrous things I get to see every day at Durham Academy. 

Thanks for reading the posts below — and sending news, links and ideas worth sharing. 

Michael Ulku-SteinerHead of School 

 

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Setting the bars

While the massive steel beams of our new Upper School STEM + Humanities Center are the most conspicuous things on campus these days, I’m grateful that our students, alumni and parents never forget what really makes DA strong.

Teachers remain the beating heart of our school and the #1 priority in each of our last several strategic plans. As we put it in Goal 1 of the most recent Plan:

We will strive to create a faculty full of “life-changers”: genuine, curious, passionate, striving, generous and accountable teachers/learners who nurture, inspire, engage and challenge students and model the path to moral, happy, productive lives.

A key part of that work: clarifying our Standards of Professional Excellence for faculty and harmonizing the teacher evaluation rubrics across our four divisions.

Over the past two years, our PS, LS, MS and US Directors led their faculties to reconsider and revise the standards by which they are evaluated. From promoting self-confidence in students to collaborating with colleagues across departments; from utilizing a variety of approaches to instruction to following the school’s security plans and being prepared for emergencies; from integrating technology into their lessons to designing assessments that are meaningful and clear – as you’ll see from the lists below, the work of our teachers is as varied as it is challenging.

Also challenging: pulling the developmentally appropriate aims of four learner-centered faculties into a coherent PK-12 whole. Associate Head Lee Hark guided this work, convening the four directors and helping them (through their shuttle diplomacy, horse trading, conflict and compromise) arrive at a set of standards that is far more harmonized than ever before.

The standards still acknowledge real differences between the teaching of four- and fourteen-year-olds. But they also now help us down the road toward our Strategic Plan’s Goal #2: A cohesive, connected and collaborative PK-12 student learning experience.

Those school Directors continue to learn from each other’s best practices as they work to harmonize other aspects of their evaluation, leadership and support of teachers. For example:

  • the timing and frequency of teacher goal-setting, class observations, and follow-up conversations;
  • the digestion and use of feedback from students (now required for every MS and US course) and parents (now invited every November and March through our Parent Feedback Form);
  • the curriculum mapping that is happening in teams from PK-12.

The standards below offer something more than a grading scale for teacher performance. They summarize the aspirations of our teachers themselves. They reflect the manifold skills required for success in and out of our classrooms. They frame our formal evaluation process. They provide a common vocabulary and shared targets for conversation and improvement. They are a few more strands of the connective tissue binding our four divisions to the shared goal of teaching that changes lives.     

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Preschool 

Academic/Instructional Standards

  • Provides an organized and safe environment for students that is developmentally appropriate and conducive to learning
  • Uses a variety of resources and materials; adapts instruction to meet the individual learning needs of students
  • Incorporates the instructional and curricular goals of the division with consistency
  • Demonstrates an understanding of subject matter and child development
  • Sets high standards for students, promotes self-confidence, a sense of responsibility and independence
  • Establishes and maintains a positive relationship with students; inspires and supports students to reach their greatest potential
  • Fosters a respect for individual differences and an appreciation for diversity
  • Sets clear and consistent behavioral expectations for students that align with school policies and procedures
  • Makes appropriate accommodations for students with learning differences
  • Uses documented observations and assessments to understand the individual learning needs of students and adjusts instruction accordingly; communicates concerns to the appropriate members of the school community

 Professional Standards

  • Meets professional expectations outlined in the Employee Handbook and PS Faculty Manual
  • Follows school security plans and is prepared for school or student emergencies
  • Possesses a professional presence at faculty and parent meetings
  • Follows through; is dependable, reliable, and responsible
  • Maintains confidentiality
  • Is flexible and adaptable as the need arises; can adjust to setbacks and changes
  • Welcomes feedback and accepts direction from appropriate personnel
  • Is accessible to students, parents, and colleagues
  • Is an effective communicator with students, parents, and colleagues and responds in a timely manner
  • Is a curious, lifelong learner; embraces change and pursues professional growth opportunities

Teamwork and Community Standards

  • Shares ideas with colleagues and works productively on teams
  • Collaborates effectively within and across grade levels and disciplines
  • Maintains a positive and respectful relationship with colleagues
  • Is willing to take responsibility on school committees
  • Participates in the school community outside of assigned instructional responsibilities

Lower School

Academic/Instructional Standards

  • Provides an organized and safe environment for students that is developmentally appropriate and conducive to learning
  • Uses a variety of resources and materials; adapts instruction to meet the individual learning needs of students
  • Incorporates the instructional and curricular goals of the division with consistency
  • Utilizes instructional strategies that embody best practice and 21st century literacies in the classroom
  • Demonstrates an understanding of subject matter and child development
  • Sets high standards for students, promotes self-confidence, a sense of responsibility and independence
  • Establishes and maintains a positive relationship with students; inspires and supports students to reach their greatest potential
  • Fosters a respect for individual differences and an appreciation for diversity
  • Sets clear and consistent behavioral expectations for students that align with school policies and procedures
  • Makes appropriate accommodations for students with learning differences
  • Uses documented observations and assessments to understand the individual learning needs of students and adjusts instruction accordingly; communicates concerns to the appropriate members of the school community

 Professional Standards

  • Meets professional expectations outlined in the Employee Handbook and LS Faculty Manual
  • Follows school security plans and is prepared for school or student emergencies
  • Possesses a professional presence at faculty and parent meetings
  • Follows through; is dependable, reliable, and responsible
  • Maintains confidentiality
  • Is flexible and adaptable as the need arises; can adjust to setbacks and changes
  • Accomplishes administrative tasks (lesson planning, grading, writing comments, etc.) in a timely fashion
  • Is accessible to students, parents, and colleagues
  • Is an effective communicator with students, parents, and colleagues and responds in a timely manner
  • Is a curious, lifelong learner; embraces change and pursues professional growth opportunities
  • Pursues best practice including digital literacy through professional growth    

Teamwork and Community Standards

  • Shares ideas with colleagues and works productively on teams
  • Collaborates effectively within and across grade levels and disciplines
  • Maintains a positive and respectful relationship with colleagues
  • Is willing to take responsibility on school committees
  • Participates in the school community outside of assigned instructional responsibilities

Middle School 

Academic/Instructional Standards

  • Conducts purposeful, organized, and well-planned classes that progress along a curricular continuum
  • Utilizes a variety of approaches to instruction (student-centered, inquiry-based, differentiated, etc.) and tools (including technology) in the classroom
  • Has a strong command of the subject matter and relevant, developmentally appropriate pedagogy
  • Sets high and clear expectations for students’ academic performance and helps them achieve these expectations
  • Interactions with students reflect genuine warmth and caring
  • Fosters a respect for individual differences and an appreciation for diversity
  • Communicates standards of behavior effectively and responds to disciplinary issues sensitively, maturely, and appropriately
  • Assigns homework that enhances the learning process while considering the time and energy it requires of students
  • Designs assessments that are meaningful and clear and provides timely feedback
  • Makes appropriate accommodations for students with learning differences

Professional Standards

  • Meets professional expectations outlined in the Employee Handbook and Middle School Faculty Manual
  • Follows school security plans and is prepared for school or student emergencies
  • Possesses a professional presence at faculty and parent meetings
  • Follows through; is dependable, reliable, and responsible
  • Is flexible and adaptable as the need arises; can adjust to setbacks and changes
  • Exercises good judgment
  • Accomplishes administrative tasks (keeps Veracross and/or Evernote homework assignments current, lesson planning, grading, writing comments, etc.) on time
  • Is accessible to students, parents, and colleagues
  • Is an effective communicator with students, parents, and colleagues and responds in a timely manner
  • Is a curious, lifelong learner; embraces change and pursues professional growth opportunities

Teamwork and Community Standards

  • Shares ideas with colleagues and works productively on teams
  • Collaborates effectively within and across grade levels and disciplines
  • Maintains a positive and respectful relationship with colleagues
  • Is willing to take responsibility on school committees
  • Participates in the school community outside of assigned instructional responsibilities
  • Is a caring, dedicated advisor

Upper School

Academic/Instructional Standards

  • Conducts purposeful, organized, and well-planned classes that progress along a curricular continuum
  • Utilizes a variety of approaches to instruction (student-centered, inquiry-based, differentiated, etc.) and tools (including technology) in the classroom
  • Has a strong command of the subject matter and relevant, developmentally appropriate pedagogy
  • Sets high and clear expectations for students’ academic performance and helps them achieve these expectations
  • Interactions with students reflect genuine warmth and caring
  • Fosters a respect for individual differences and an appreciation for diversity
  • Communicates standards of behavior effectively and responds to disciplinary issues sensitively, maturely, and appropriately
  • Assigns homework that enhances the learning process while considering the time and energy it requires of students
  • Designs assessments that are meaningful and clear and provides timely feedback
  • Makes appropriate accommodations for students with learning differences

Professional Standards

  • Meets professional expectations outlined in the Employee Handbook and Upper School Faculty Manual
  • Follows school security plans and is prepared for school or student emergencies
  • Possesses a professional presence at faculty and parent meetings
  • Follows through; is dependable, reliable, and responsible
  • Is flexible and adaptable as the need arises; can adjust to setbacks and changes
  • Exercises good judgment
  • Accomplishes administrative tasks (updating Veracross and electronic gradebook, taking attendance, writing comments, etc.) in a timely fashion
  • Is accessible to students, parents, and colleagues
  • Is an effective communicator with students, parents, and colleagues and responds in a timely manner
  • Is a curious, lifelong learner; embraces change and pursues professional growth opportunities

Teamwork and Community Standards

  • Shares ideas with colleagues and works productively on teams
  • Collaborates effectively within and across grade levels and disciplines
  • Maintains a positive and respectful relationship with colleagues
  • Is willing to take responsibility on school committees
  • Participates in the school community outside of assigned instructional responsibilities
  • Is a caring, dedicated advisor
Posted by mulkus on Sunday October, 29 at 07:26PM
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