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Chartiers Valley educators share successes at global conference

| Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, 2:18 p.m.

Teachers were smiling, interacting and taking notes.

They were learning and participating, sometimes on their own time, in an action inquiry book study at Chartiers Valley Middle School. At times, they sought out to find things they were reading about in their classrooms to make the learning real.

“It is a really productive environment of professional development,” principal Adrienne Floro said.

The action inquiry book studies at Chartiers Valley Middle School have grown in success over the last three years, from about 28 percent of the staff participating in one book group three years ago to about 45 percent of the staff being involved in three book studies last year. This year, there are eight book studies at the school.

The success Chartiers Valley Middle School has found in professional development for its teachers, as well as the creation of an e-portfolio to streamline teacher evaluations, made its way to the national stage this month as Floro and Spanish teacher Robert Chatlak presented at the Annual Conference for Middle Level Education in Philadelphia.

The conference, which drew educators from across the world, brings together “the rock stars of middle level education” to share ideas, Floro said. “These are really the Beatles and the Ben Roethlisbergers of our field.”

Being able to learn from these people, let alone present alongside them, “elevates you professionally” and provides connections and resources to improve your school, Floro said.

Chatlack, who presented at the conference for the first time, shared an e-portfolio he created to help improve differentiated supervision model for teacher evaluations.

Pennsylvania uses Charlotte Danielson's “A Framework for Teaching” as a template for teacher evaluations. In that, there are as many as 25 components teachers are judged on each year, Chatlack said.

When an administrator pops into a classroom to review a teacher, it's hard to review all 25 components in one period, he said. And what if the teacher is having an off day? That's how they are judged for their entire year.

Teachers at Chartiers Valley Middle School were allowed to create portfolios to showcase their work. Yet often times that came in the form of 5-inch binders with no set system that administrators juggled to carry around at the end of the year while they were trying to evaluate each teacher, Floro and Chatlack said.

Chatlack saw this as an opportunity to create a template online — using Google — that teachers, nurses and others in the school can use to upload lesson plans, letters from parents or photos of a great day in the classroom to share with administrators. Administrators then could scroll through all of the teachers' works in one place, with a uniform style, while evaluating them.

This also allows teachers to share their portfolio with their peers or other administrators to receive critiques.

“The possibilities are endless for this,” Chatlack said.

Floro said this puts the power back in the teacher's hands to share what they're doing in the classroom everyday and share it in their e-portfolio.

Floro presented Chartiers Valley's success with the book study program at the conference.

“It's been a really empowering part of our culture,” Floro said. “I'm a big believer in ‘do as I say and as I do.' Everything that we want for the students, we want for the teachers.”

That includes having choices and a voice, she said.

Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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