View the San Juan Common
Core Web Page
SJTA and the District agree that working in full partnership will produce the greatest opportunity for a successful implementation of the Common Core Standards. We mutually believe that by innovatively implementing the Common Core State Standards we will ensure that ALL students are ready for college, career, and citizenship in the 21st century.
It Gets Better Project
San Juan Unified’s mission statement begins with “Valuing diversity and excellence.” As one example of how those values ring true, the District and the San Juan Teachers Association jointly produced and launched an “It Gets Better” video in support of all students- but especially those lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth who may be the victims of bullying, harassment, intimidation or fear.
SJTA and the District believe that no student deserves to be bullied or harassed. Whether it’s at school, at home, or in the greater community, it is not OK. That includes LGBT youth who are often the victims of these behaviors, which can lead to a higher rate of depression, self-harm and suicide.
Nine students and staff from throughout the District have stepped forward to share their stories of growing up and finding their place in a world that supports and accepts them for who they are. These individuals hope that by sharing their stories, current students and youth in our community who identify themselves as LGBT might find hope and courage to seek help if they need it.
If you are interested in more information and/or training in these issues, SJTA provides a variety of workshops and professional development activities on diversity and current anti-bullying laws.
For more information and resources for teachers and students
go to: www.sanjuan.edu/itgetsbetter
The following article appeared in an online blog in Education Week.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE
Peer Assistance and Review in San Juan
Shannan Brown and Cheryl Dultz
Public education in the US is under tremendous pressure to improve. International indicators, as well as continuous achievement gaps, have sent states and districts scurrying for answers. In some places, people are ‘Racing to the Top’ while others (usually outside of education) are looking for quick fixes by imposing reforms top down. While both of these approaches gain the lion’s share of media attention, they have focused largely on accountability. In a few places, however, educational transformation is quietly underway that focuses on continual improvement of practice. The San Juan Unified School District, a large suburban district outside Sacramento, CA, is one such place.
San Juan is undergoing a massive change process lead jointly by the San Juan Teachers Association (SJTA) and district management. Guided by the district’s Strategic Plan and shared values regarding student learning, SJTA and SJUSD are working collaboratively to continually improve teaching and learning. The magnitude of this change effort is enormous, but we are confident that we are on the right path. Our confidence is predicated upon many joint efforts over the years, but the success of one initiative in particular is the cornerstone of our approach: Peer Assistance and Review (PAR). Its merit has been most recently substantiated in Peer Review: Getting Serious about Teacher Support and Evaluation (Koppich & Humphrey 2011).
Much of the success of our PAR program is based on creating a culture where adults (and ultimately students) use a variety of sources for feedback to reflect and build a habit of continuous improvement. Attention to strong instructional practices may not be new when thinking about the kinds of classrooms we want for our students, but using those same practices to guide improvement efforts for teachers is not the norm. Our PAR program is intentionally based on a strong foundation of solid instructional practice: consistent individualized feedback, ownership of one’s work, high engagement, autonomy, accountability, and collaboration .
Essentially, the PAR program provides intensive support to struggling teachers. The struggling teacher is originally placed into PAR after receiving an unsatisfactory evaluation from his or her site administrator in two or more standards from the California Standards for the Teaching Profession. A consulting teacher (CT), who was selected through a rigorous application process, is then assigned to the now ‘participating’ teacher and an improvement plan is created based on the teacher’s needs.The CT then works collaboratively with the teacher and tailors the needed support to address all areas identified in the improvement plan. Some examples of support may include: CTs modeling lessons, co-teaching, coaching of the participating teacher with targeted feedback, peer observations of exemplary teachers and analysis of student work. While the CT is the primary support provider for a participating teacher, the PAR panel is the governing body over the PAR program.
The Governance Panel consists of four teachers and three administrators and is co-chaired by the President of SJTA and the Superintendent’s appointee. The CT and the participating teacher meet with the Panel on a regular basis to share the teacher’s progress based on evidence gathered from their collaborative work.The Panel ensures that the CT is doing everything possible to support the teacher and also facilitates frank conversation with the participating teacher in areas still in need of improvement. These practices are based on our belief that teachers should receive intensive individualized support to improve because student success is the responsibility of all members of an educational system.
Most teachers complete our PAR process and have significantly improve their instructional practice, thus meeting standards. They exit the program and return to a regular evaluation cycle. Some participants far exceed their improvement plan. They not only exit the program, many go on to become instructional leaders at their own sites. There are instances, however, in which a teacher is unwilling or unable to meet the requirements of the improvement plan. In those rare cases, the teacher is counseled out of the profession or recommended for dismissal by the PAR panel.
Our PAR program represents a microcosm of what can be accomplished when the collective focus is placed on continual improvement of practice and capacity building. In the end, accountability is a product of our work, but not the goal.
“...the Consulting Teacher’s
evaluations were focused on improving the participating teacher’s practice and not just on identifying the problems.”
Koppich and Humphrey conclude (Humphrey & Koppich 2011).
Real educational transformation can occur if the national focus is moved beyond using accountability as a weapon of punishment to it becoming a tool used for progress. In San Juan, we strive to keep continual improvement of teaching and learning at the center of our work and as the vehicle for implementing change.