TAP Summer Institute Trains Teachers
for Coming Year
Since its establishment in 2005, the TAP Summer Institute (TSI) has been a highly valuable training ground for school leadership teams ó principals, master and mentor teachers ó by systematically strengthening the skills and effectiveness of their TAP implementation. Due to TSIís strong focus on meeting the specific needs of TAP schools, the institute has attracted hundreds of participants across the country.
This year, NIET teamed up with the Louisiana Department of Education to co-host TSI in New Orleans, which served more than 300 people and represented seven states: Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Arizona and Colorado.
Rigorous and Engaging Team DiscussionsTAP teachers and principals received in-depth technical assistance on analyzing data, setting school goals, providing rigorous weekly professional development, and effectively observing and coaching teachers' instruction in the classroom. The variety of topics offered this year was greater than ever before, complete with comprehensive workshops on the key indicators of the TAP rubrics, a breakdown of TAP's performance-based compensation and how it is calculated, and the conducting of post-conferences with teachers on refinement areas.
There was also a track of technology sessions in which attendees delved into cutting-edge innovations for the 21st century classroom. From PowerPoint animation to flip cameras, podcasts, webcams and the creation of avatars, TAP teachers learned powerful ways to incorporate this new technology into their TAP implementation.
Participants noted the usefulness of the intensive sessions. "People left training sessions energized and empowered with lots of new learning which will strengthen TAP implementation, increase teacher proficiency and enhance student achievement," said Vicky Condalary, Louisiana TAP executive master teacher and session facilitator. "In fact, many participants left New Orleans saying that this was one of the best conferences they have ever attended."
In some respects, the content was so relevant and conducive to interaction that they did not want to leave. South Carolina TAP Director Dennis Dotterer, who facilitated coaching sessions, said that the participants "were so engaged that it was difficult to complete the sessions because of the ongoing interaction with the material and the intense learning that was occurring."
Jason Culbertson, NIET's senior vice president for school services, said that participants were even eager to "replicate the National TSI trainings at their school and district sites." He continued, "We received many comments regarding the applicability of the content that was presented in the training sessions. Clearly, participants felt that their training needs were met."
Added Texas TAP Regional Coordinator James Snyder, "You could see the passion of TAP system educators bubble up during every discussion, and it made for a great learning experience for all."
TAP Strengthens Training for AdministratorsNIET's ongoing development of comprehensive tools to improve and evaluate principal effectiveness has meant a greater need for administrators to have their own training track at TSI. Since the track was rolled out in 2007, it has earned high praise from new and veteran TAP principals alike.
In addition to the focus on effectively using the TAP Cluster Rubric, facilitating leadership team meetings, supporting mentor and master teachers and measuring principal effectiveness, this year's training strand introduced the new TAP Leadership Team Observation Rubric. Similar to the TAP Cluster Rubric that provides a set of measurements to evaluate the effectiveness of cluster group meetings, the Leadership Team Observation Rubric has been specifically designed to evaluate how effectively leadership team meetings are being conducted.
According to Teddy Broussard, NIET Senior Program Specialist who led sessions on the new rubric, the measurement is slated to be implemented in TAP schools this fall. Meetings will be rated on leadership planning and organization; the quality of the facilitator; member participation; and the connection to TAP's student achievement goals.
Basing the Leadership Team Observation Rubric on the TAP Cluster Rubric was a natural step in the design process. "The best leadership team meetings run like clusters," explained Broussard. "It's not about just receiving reports."
Lillie Giles, principal of Logansport High School in Louisiana, expressed her excitement about launching the rubric in her school this year. "I look forward to using the new Leadership Team Observation Rubric," she said. "The rubric establishes a common lens which I can use to provide support and professional development for the mentor and master teachers, as well as analyze the effectiveness of the TAP Leadership Team in my building."
Giles' enthusiasm is representative of the feelings shared by many TSI participants. "TSI was embedded with rigor, a clear vision and a comprehensive process that will enable my school to transform itself academically and sustain a supportive culture of learning!" Giles added. "Simply put, TSI was second to none! I look forward to TSI 2011!"
Lynn Kuykendall, Master Teacher, Clinton Elementary School, Clinton, South Carolina
"We do the initial legwork and field testing so we know the strategies can work with our students, and then we share the positive results with classroom teachers. But then we don't just leave them in the lurch. We go in and support them through the follow-up piece as they implement the new strategies."