Saturday, August 22, 2015

Assessing the Needs of Our Teachers

Assessing the Needs of our Teachers
(This is the fourth in a series of articles about our first year of TLC in Iowa)

Understanding the importance of the concerns of our teachers viewing the TLC program as second order change, we wanted to make sure they had a voice in the areas that they chose for collaboration with an instructional coach. Through our professional development workshops in Adult Learning, we learned there are six assumptions of the adult learner.  According to our training, adults need to know:

  • what the reason is for learning
  • how it relates to their experiences
  • how their self concept will be affected (they need to be seen and treated as capable and self-directed)
  • when they will have the readiness (adults become ready to learn things they need to know and do in order to cope effectively with real-life situations (Knowles et al., 2005)),
  • how it is ‘life centered’
  • where their motivation is coming from - internal and/or external

After learning about these assumptions, we decided to utilize group and individual teacher needs assessments throughout the year so that teachers were the driving force behind what type of support and professional development they received.  

For example, at our “Welcome Back” workshop at the beginning of the school year, we focused our presentation on Bettendorf’s TLC goal, which is “to increase student achievement by improving instruction.” We asked our teachers to brainstorm areas in which they thought they would want to collaborate with an instructional coach.  Through a think-pair-share process, teachers brought up topics that we grouped into 6 main categories: instruction, assessment, curriculum, classroom management, relationships, and technology.
Utilizing their thoughts and suggestions, we developed a needs assessment to help set our priorities and make a plan of action. The survey had six statements regarding the above focus areas and asked the teachers to rate the statement on a likert scale from 1 to 4; 1=they do not want to work with a coach on that area, and 4=they would like to work with a coach on that area.  Once we received the results from the survey, we identified the highest needs and the teachers who wanted to work with a coach in each identified area.

The following were the results:

Please note, the horizontal axis represents the rating scale and the vertical axis represents the number of teachers who responded.

As instructional coaches, it was very beneficial to gather the results of the needs assessment because it gave us an idea of where to begin with our work with teachers.  Out of the 92 teachers in our high school and alternative school, 77 responded to the survey, and 43 of those teachers responded with their name (we gave the option for anonymity) and a request to work with a coach.  Using this data, we divided these 43 teachers among the three of us, allowing us to enter into coaching conversations with nearly 47% of the faculty very early in the school year.  Needless to say, we were eager to begin!

Although this blog focuses on how we assessed the needs of our teachers at the beginning of the school year, we continued to use additional needs assessments to drive our work with teachers throughout the rest of the year.  We will share more information on how we continued to assess teacher needs and enroll teachers into working with instructional coaches in upcoming blog posts.