Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Program Turns Teachers into Pupils Instructors Receive Special Training in Subjects While Learning from Each Other

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Program Turns Teachers into Pupils Instructors Receive Special Training in Subjects While Learning from Each Other

Article excerpt

The first-graders weren't the only ones learning in this classroom at Pittsburgh Woolslair PreK-5 in Bloomfield.

The 11 children were learning how to recognize groups of five, and six visiting veteran teachers were learning more about teaching math.

The six are among the 54 teachers at 36 schools who are Instructional Leader Teacher 2s, the most widespread of the district's career ladder teaching positions that provide extra pay and responsibilities for teachers. The list is expected to expand to 71 teachers in 42 schools this fall.

The teachers, who can be found at all grade levels, receive deep training in math or English language arts and are paid an added $11,300 a year for their extra time and duties.

The fall additions will include teachers in science or social studies.

Now in their third year in the role, the teachers were chosen for the position because they are good teachers but they still are learning how to be better and how to help other teachers excel as well.

Although the details of their role vary by the needs in a building, they all work a longer school day and longer school year. The teacher leaders provide observation feedback and support to teachers throughout a school, with about 300 teachers directly supported by these teacher leaders.

They teach students fewer periods in a day and spend the remainder of the day working with other teachers, helping them develop lesson plans, teaching side by side, modeling good teacher practices and providing feedback.

Although they are trained to evaluate on the district's standards, a teacher's final formal evaluation is done by the principal.

The district long has had the instructional teacher leaders - without the "2" - and still has about 150 of them. They have more limited duties and receive less additional pay.

Five times a year, Teacher Leaders 2 meet in small groups at different schools for "instructional rounds" with a coach to talk about ways they can become better teachers and ways to help other teachers with their practice. They also meet monthly and receive one-on-one support at their schools.

On recent instructional rounds, the six who sat in the Woolslair classroom watched a lesson taught by Kim Dennis, a coach from the Center for Educational Leadership.

They were joined by Rosy Reed, the district's coordinator for instructional effectiveness.

Before the lesson, Ms. Dennis and the teachers talked about what she was going to do. They discussed looking at the lesson using the lens of features that promote children's understanding, such as including children's ideas, encouraging multiple approaches and using mistakes as opportunities for learning.

Ms. Dennis' goal was to help students understand groups of five using hand-held equipment - called a number rack - that had five red beads and five white ones on a stick and another with two rows of such beads. …

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