Notes on Alabama Continuum for Teacher Development

As I mentioned in my previous post, this semester I started coursework in the Alternative Masters Program in Secondary Education, Language Arts, because apparently one Masters degree isn’t enough for me. This will involve taking a bunch of Education classes, a few more English classes, and spending a whole lot of time in a high school classroom. This semester, I will spend 40 hours of classroom observation at Ramsay High School, and I’m sure I will be writing about some of those experiences here.

Today, I’ve been reviewing the Alabama Continuum for Teacher Development, which was put together by a task force under then-Governor Bob Riley in 2006 (one of the few good things to come out of Riley’s governorship). The continuum has been highly praised around the country as an excellent framework teachers can use for reflection, self-assessment, and goal setting. It explicitly states that it is not to be used as an instrument of evaluation or observation.

The continuum is based on five Quality Teaching Standards developed by the same task force earlier in their commission. The standards are:

  1. Content Knowledge
  2. Teaching and Learning
  3. Literacy
  4. Diversity
  5. Professionalism

The continuum lists a number of “indicators” under each standard. These indicators allow teachers to assess their skills in various areas and set goals for where their skill level should be at various points in their career, based on experience. The indicators provide a way to assess appropriate skill levels for teachers at the following development levels: Beginning, Emerging, Applying, Integrating, and Innovating.

For example, under Standard 2, Teaching and Learning, the first indicator is “Develops challenging, standards-based academic goals for each learner.”

At the Beginning level, there are four check points for assessing competency on that indicator:

  • Establishes rules and procedures for classroom management.
  • Utilizes sound classroom organization and management strategies.
  • Implements organization and management strategies in response to specific classroom issues or individual learner needs.
  • Provides encouragement to learners for positive behaviors

At the Innovating level the check points are:

  • Advocates for school-wide improvements in organizational and management systems that equitably reinforce expectations and consequences.
  • Engages colleagues in implementing research-based strategies for promoting positive behaviors.
  • Builds learners’ capacity to take responsibility in maintaining and monitoring behavior for self and others.

It’s important to understand that nobody is expected to reach “Innovating” level in every area. The goal of the AMP is to help teachers reach the “Emerging” level by the time they finish the program. One of the challenges of self-assessment is to visualize what each of these checkpoints would look like in the context of my own classroom. I’d be interested in hearing from teachers, especially public school teachers in Alabama, about their experience with this type of self-assessment and their feelings about the continuum in general.

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