2011 TAP Summer Institute (TSI):
Systematically Strengthening TAP Implementation
More than 600 educators from across the country came together in Arizona to attend the 2011 National TAP Summer Institute (TSI). Since its establishment in 2005, TSI has been a highly valuable training ground for principals, master and mentor teachers—those who make up school leadership teams.
TSI's popularity this year was also driven by relevance of key trainings to current education reforms including rigorous and accurate teacher and principal evaluation systems; school-based professional development; teacher leadership and the creation of school leadership teams; and performance-based compensation. TSI training also directly addresses the specific needs of TAP schools.
Whether campuses need help developing academic goals, refining weekly professional development ("cluster groups"), or gaining a deeper understanding of the TAP evaluation rubrics in practice, there is a session led by an expert TAP trainer to lend a helping hand.
High engagementThis year TSI participants received intensive training on key topics including coaching and the connectivity among domains of the TAP Teaching Standards, including Instructional, Designing and Planning, and the Learning Environment. They also delved deeper into TAP's professional development, the roles and responsibilities of teacher leaders as well as principals through school TAP Leadership Teams, and understanding how to measure student achievement using value-added student achievement growth.
Other sessions focused on administrators; the Comprehensive Online Data Entry (CODE) system for managing teacher evaluation information; conducting pre- and post- conferences surrounding teacher observations, and Thinking and Problem Solving—the two most complex indicators of the TAP Instructional Rubric.
"The energy level at TSI was especially high this year," said NIET Program Specialist Teddy Broussard, who led several trainings. "Educators were excited to be there and eager to soak up as much as they could."
New this year was a full day of training on field-testing—or trying strategies with teachers and students in the classroom before introducing them in weekly meetings—as well as a TAP CORE training track for new TAP educators.
NIET Senior Vice President of School Services Jason Culbertson identified the day of field-testing training as one of the most exciting aspects of TSI. "Without an acute concentration on the method, field testing can too often be misunderstood or over-complicated. The field-testing training at TSI provided a succinct explanation of the process and created many 'a-ha' moments."
Broussard agreed. "We received highly positive feedback on the field-testing training. The video clips we presented were especially powerful, providing relevant examples in real time that school teams could relate to and build upon."
Stephanie Mosqueda, assistant director for the Texas TAP System, headed up TAP CORE training.
"Educators came out of the CORE training with a deeper understanding of TAP and how it will benefit their schools," said Mosqueda. "A principal in the room observed that the CORE TAP Leadership Team (TLT) training made it all come together. Now he can see how this model will be able to move his campus. A TAP master teacher told me that she is looking forward to the focused discussions that her campus will have now, concentrated on improving teachers in the building. Another principal said that this model will be the best thing that happened to their school in terms of teacher evaluations and feedback."
TAP Training "2.0"In the past, TAP educators left TSI with a hefty file of notes to take back to their campuses. This time, the TAP training came home with them through the powerful TAP System Training Portal. Using this interactive Web tool, educators can access TAP trainings whenever and wherever they need it. Need to brush up on an indicator or take the TAP certified evaluator performance test? Just visit www.tapsystemtraining.org.
But that's not all. NIET announced new features of the portal, including the addition of the TAP evaluator recertification process and CODE.
"I love that NIET was able to develop and support our TAP users with new technologies to access the training portal and other TAP resources," said NIET President and CEO Dr. Gary Stark.
For those on the road, TAP educators have the convenience of TAP Mobile, the mobile version of the portal, which will seamlessly load from smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Also stay tuned for a TAP "app" (or "mobile application"), likely to launch later in fall 2011.
"Innovation has been a primary focus for our organization, and I commend our team for their efforts," Stark said. "It was exciting to launch these features with so many teachers and principals in the audience. They were extremely engaged and appreciated the new tools."
For complete details of the sessions covered at TSI, view the TSI Program.
Mark Bonine, Principal, Nellie Stone Elementary, Minneapolis, Minnesota
"We've seen great improvement. We have not only anecdotal evidence, but we also have hard data about both student scores and teacher instructional strategies improving. Master and mentor teachers tell us that when they observe in the classroom, they're seeing [proven] instructional strategies in place across school grades and content areas."