Effective Practices : Mentoring
Personal Development and Enrichment
Mentoring Section 5
1. Does your school have an individual or group that is responsible for mentoring, evaluation, and renewal/enrichment for all personnel? Is oversight of these activities given to one group, or are there separate groups or individuals with these responsibilities?
2. How does your school determine what additional activities or resources would be helpful to an individual’s personal and professional development? For example, how are appropriate courses, conferences and other activities for development and enrichment identified?
3. Does your school provide funding to support individuals in participating in these outside enrichment activities? How is the overall budget set, and how are allocation decisions made?
4. Describe some of the recent outside developmental and enrichment opportunities that members of your teaching staff and administration have participated in. Note those that have been particularly effective, describing how and why they achieved their intended purpose.
5. What is your school’s philosophy with regard to providing teachers and staff members with opportunities for outside enrichment and development?
6. What is working particularly well at your school with regard to personal development and enrichment?
7. If there were changes you could make with regard to your personal development and enrichment program, what would they be and why?
Does your school have an individual or group that is responsible for mentoring, evaluation, and renewal/enrichment for all personnel? Is oversight of these activities given to one group, or are there separate groups or individuals with these responsibilities?
In most schools the responsibility for mentoring, evaluation and renewal /enrichment is given to a committee. This committee operates under a variety of names - the Teacher Development Committee, the Human Resources Work Group, and the Personnel Committee - but all do essentially the same work.
One of the effective schools in our study has a teacher evaluation committee, while mentoring is overseen by the governance council and the continuing education funds are managed by the administrative director. The administrative director works in conjunction with the core group of each part of the school (Early Childhood, Grades and High School) to ensure that requests are appropriate.
In schools where one committee handles all aspects of teacher mentoring, evaluation and professional development it is common for individual committee members to focus on one or another aspect of the work, even though the committee as a whole is responsible for delivering its mandate. For example, one member of the committee might be named to coordinate the requests for funding for professional development and enrichment. This is especially true when funds for professional development are tied to gift and grant money which the school receives. One school in our study receives a fair amount of funding from the city through the No Child Left Behind Act, and the paperwork for these funds requires a fair amount of administrative attention.
How does your school determine what additional activities or resources would be helpful to an individual’s personal and professional development? For example, how are appropriate courses, conferences and other activities for development and enrichment identified?
Schools approach this question from two different perspectives. In some cases the school allows the individual teacher to make requests for funding, while in other schools attendance at various professional development functions is more centrally directed. It is important to note that the schools that allow teachers to self direct their professional development activities have a very large number of fully trained Waldorf teachers on staff. This means that much of the ongoing training falls in the area of personal enrichment rather than “basic training”, and it is appropriate to allow these requests to be self directed.
In schools with fewer fully trained teachers it is common for the Teacher Development Committee to determine the kinds of developmental activities that would be helpful to a teacher through conversation with the mentor and information included in the self assessment and evaluation. All flyers and brochures regarding trainings and courses are forwarded to the Teacher Development Committee so that members are well aware of what is available. At times a teacher will come to her mentor with an idea for professional development and then forward it to the committee for approval.
The school in our study that utilizes job-alike learning groups asks the learning group to create a development plan for each member of the group. These plans are submitted to the committee for approval.
The spring time is often a heavy period of funding requests for trainings and other courses, as many of these take place over the summer. The human resources committee must do a good job of reserving funds to accommodate these requests which occur late in the school year.
Some schools require that, upon completion of any professional development course or program funded by the school, the teacher complete a form describing how the course or training went and the benefits received through participation. (See: Professional Development Follow-Up Form (doc))
Does your school provide funding to support individuals in participating in these outside enrichment activities? How is the overall budget set, and how are allocation decisions made?
Every school in our study provides funds to faculty members to support ongoing enrichment and training activities. At the low end schools budget $500 per person annually for professional development and these budgets can be as large as $40 to $50,000 annually. In some cases a school is able to cover the cost of a program and travel and housing as well, although the latter two cannot always be guaranteed.
Some schools pay teachers who are not yet fully trained a lower wage until the training is completed. The difference in salary is used to ensure that adequate funds are available to support teachers in their pursuit of a Waldorf teacher training certificate.
One school noted that having adequate funds for professional development is a key part of making an evaluation program work. People are more likely to improve if they are speaking regularly with their peers about their teaching and have an action plan that will help them with professional development. They need confidence that there will be funding for their professional development plan, otherwise the planning process will be met with cynicism rather than enthusiastic participation.
Describe some of the recent outside developmental and enrichment opportunities that members of your teaching staff and administration have participated in. Note those that have been particularly effective, describing how and why they achieved their intended purpose.
It is common practice for class teachers to use their funds to attend the summer preparation courses for their upcoming grade. Others attend workshops in areas of special interest including movement, mathematics, learning difficulties, and pedagogical seminars. Teachers who have not yet completed their Waldorf certification enroll in a teacher training program.
Examples of trainings funded by schools include spatial dynamics training, the Goethean studies program, AWSNA conferences, the world kindergarten conference, and the international teacher’s conference in Dornach. Other courses include art camps, lyre training, puppetry workshops, drama classes, social inclusion work, and courses on festivals and diversity. One school noted that it has also found workshops made available through their local independent school association to be of great value.
What is your school’s philosophy with regard to providing teachers and staff members with opportunities for outside enrichment and development?
All of the schools with strong professional development programs spoke of the importance of this work. It was noted that opportunities for outside enrichment and development help to keep teachers inspired. Schools ask teachers to move toward what inspires them, and then to share the results of their training with their colleagues, the parents in their classes, as well as in their work with the students.
One school noted that teachers need ongoing professional development and that the school is committed to providing the necessary financial support that will make this possible. Even in periods of financial strain the school has found ways to provide for this important source of growth and renewal.
It was noted that sometimes a class or activity that is not directly applicable to a teacher’s classroom work can be the most restorative opportunity, and teachers are generally allowed a fair amount of latitude in deciding how to use their continuing education funds.
It is equally important for staff members to attend workshops and training sessions, as well as to participate in the local DANA work.
One school noted that being actively engaged in pedagogical dialog and using the faculty as an academy for higher learning leads to a commitment to lifelong improvement in ones teaching. This school supports this dialog through its job-alike learning circles which are forums for pedagogical conversation, and then funding the teachers’ desires for improvement that come out of these conversations.
What is working particularly well at your school with regard to personal development and enrichment?
Our faculty feels supported by the availability of funding for personal enrichment and continuing education opportunities.
Most of the teachers participate and take advantage of this opportunity to focus on their professional development.
The school also invites people to come and spend time with the faculty and the school for in-service days so everyone shares in these developmental and enrichment processes.
The school has a long history of investing in professional development, even in tough financial times.
We have a cadre of people who have completed trainings in remedial/therapeutic work and mentoring and others who are interested in training in new areas such as collaborative counseling. Faculty members dare to dream when they know that there is funding; it activates their own strategic planning for professional development.
The best part of the learning groups is that people are meeting and talking about their teaching on a regular basis. Participation in outside courses or workshops can stimulate both the learning group conversations and our faculty in-service meetings as faculty members share with each other what they have learned.
Attendance at a course or workshop can be the genesis for cultural change at the school. For this reason we often try to send two or more people to certain workshops so that their collective enthusiasm can inspire other colleagues who were not able to attend.
We have funded a portion of the cost for teachers to take the high school training course. The funds that are advanced are forgiven over the next three to five years of the teacher’s work at the school. Those teachers who leave before the loan is fully forgiven are asked to repay the remaining balance. It is a priority at the school for us to have trained teachers in all areas of the curriculum, and this approach makes it possible when finances might otherwise prevent someone from participating in the training they need and desire.
Over the last few years we have brought in outside experts to review various programs in their entirety. Areas that have been reviewed include mathematics and language arts from grade 1 through 12. These experts do not evaluate the teachers; rather they look at what is being taught and the approaches being taken. These program reviews have been a great success and have become an important part of the committee’s budget.
If there were changes you could make with regard to your personal development and enrichment program, what would they be and why?
We could use additional funding to support our teachers’ professional development needs.
We are noting that our younger colleagues are coming to us with tremendous gifts and capacities. Yet their awareness of boundaries and their life forces seem to be different from those of the older, long-time teachers, and need a different kind of support and protection than what the older workhorses needed. We continue to ask what this means in terms of the schedule, committee work and other issues. It is our job to help them with establishing a healthy balance between work and home, and we must recognize that what is healthy for them may be different from what is healthy for others.
One thought is that it would be helpful to have more ongoing foundation study opportunities available at the school. Our faculty would be well served if we had more opportunities to participate regularly in anthroposophic study, painting and eurythmy.
We hope that people all take advantage of what is available in the area of professional development and renewal. Some people do not, and that is too bad.
Our funding is inadequate, and should be increased to better meet the needs of our colleagues. It is our students who benefit when our teachers return to school restored and inspired for their work in the classroom.