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Field Trip: Beyond Teacher Evaluations
Robla School District in Sacramento, California set out to re-examine how they conducted teacher evaluations. Their existing process wasn’t helpful at promoting in-depth conversations that would help teachers grow. So they formed a design team of teachers and administrators to solve the problem together.
In this interview with Superintendent Ruben Reyes and peer facilitator Crystal Saladin, we asked:
- How they worked collaboratively, and sought input from the teachers union and individual teachers themselves
- About their work with the Resourcing Excellence in Education Center at UC Davis, and the nuts and bolts of how they have meaningful conversations about teaching with their teaching staff
- What impact this work has had on teacher leadership in the district
- Resourcing Excellence in Education at UC Davis
- SOAR Teaching Frames
- “Teacher Evaluation: Why It Matters and How We Can Do Better” – An in-depth look at the current state of teacher evaluations, and how to turn them into a tool for growth
Today our story takes place in Sacramento, California.
RUBEN REYES: A few years ago, we decided that we really wanted to explore a new way of evaluating our teachers.
Robla School District is a small district in Sacramento — the smallest in the city, in fact. It’s got about 2200 students in grades K through 6, with another 350 or so in preschool.
RUBEN REYES: We were finding that the process we were using really was not helpful, was not necessarily helpful to the teacher. And it wasn’t necessarily an opportunity for the administrator to engage in the in-depth conversation that would really lead to improvement in the teaching practice.
Many of the students are English learners – about 4 out of 10 – and speak a language other than English at home. The community there is fairly high-poverty. 93% of the student body qualifies for free or reduced meals.
CRYSTAL SALADIN: Not all educators have a grade level partner that they feel like they can collaborate in that way, that they can say, “Hey, I want you to watch my teaching and really give me some reflective feedback on what I could improve on or what I could change.”
RUBEN REYES: So, I approached our union leadership and said, “Would you be interested in a concept where we were to pursue creating an evaluation system that would be created collaboratively between administrators and teachers”?
This is the podcast for leaders in K-12, in which we bring you stories from people who are tackling age-old issues with new ideas. Every episode we take you on a journey to a different school system, and speak with superintendents, principals, HR directors, and those who work in instruction, to see what they’re doing to impact teachers and students.
From Frontline Education, this is Field Trip.
Joining me is Superintendent Ruben Reyes, as well as Crystal Saladin, who is a peer facilitator at Robla. We’re going to take a look at the work they’re doing to improve instruction and student outcomes.
Ruben and Crystal, welcome, thanks for being here.
CRYSTAL SALADIN: Oh, thank you.
RUBEN REYES: Thank you.
It sounds like often times, schools that have a high concentration of students who are living in poverty deal with lower student achievement levels. What does that look like at Robla?
RUBEN REYES: That fact is true in Robla as well, Ryan. We have what we have come to call very typical performance for a district with a high poverty population such as we have. But, what we have noticed as we’ve embarked upon the work that we’re going to talk to you about today, is that what seems to be emerging is pockets of excellence. Work places, classrooms, and schools where this work is really taking hold, we’re seeing some significant changes in the achievement in those classrooms.
Using Michael Fullan’s terminology “coherence” in our district, we’re trying to make sure that it’s happening consistently throughout the district in all classrooms and all schools.
With these pockets of excellence that you talked about, what do you think leads to them? Do they concentrate around certain schools? Or certain teachers? Do you see a common trend? What leads to excellence in certain classrooms that might not in others?
RUBEN REYES: This is something we’re still studying, I would say, as we look consistently at our data. But we do have some schools that are emerging as schools where the achievement of their students is consistently moving in the right direction. And we do definitely have some classrooms at other schools where the results are about the same in terms of their students achieving at higher levels.
What’s interesting in Robla is that, because the poverty is so pervasive, all of our classrooms are the same. All of our classrooms have poor students in them because of the large number of English learners, we don’t have some classrooms that have English learners and some that do not. So we know that even though in these classrooms the achievement is higher, it’s not because they have students who are more prepared to come to school or have access to resources that children in other schools do not have.
It’s kind of this great place to do this research, in that all of our classrooms are populated by similar populations. We really do feel that it is the impact of the teaching that is happening and the efforts that we’re making in the district to bring about this systemic change around teaching and learning in Robla.
Let’s talk about that effort for a moment. How do you bring about high quality instruction across the board and start this process of continuous improvements? How are you going about this work to increase the level of instruction across your entire district? Did you just have a blank piece of paper and sit down and start throwing ideas at the wall? Or did you find other organizations to work with? What did this look like?
RUBEN REYES: It’s interesting, the work started in a very simple way. A few years ago, we decided that we really wanted to explore a new way of evaluating our teachers, and the story in Robla, I think, is pretty common in many schools districts.
The system we were using was something that was contractually agreed upon, also followed guidelines here in the state of California around the Standards for the Teaching Profession that teachers are required to adhere to. And we were finding that the process we were using was not necessarily helpful to the teacher. And it wasn’t necessarily an opportunity for the administrator to engage in the in-depth conversation that would really lead to improvement in the teaching practice.
So we as a group knew that this was not happening in a way that we wanted it to, and it made a lot of sense in my mind, that if we were going to revamp our system, we should involve the people that the system was designed for, which is teachers. So, I approached our union leadership and said, “Would you be interested in a concept where we were to pursue creating an evaluation system that would be created collaboratively between administrators and teachers?” And I have to say, because we enjoy a relatively positive relationship between the district and the teachers’ union, that everybody was game. At the time it was a blank sheet of paper, Ryan. We had no idea where to start
At the time, Crystal Saladin – who we’re going to hear from in a few minutes – was a first grade teacher at Robla, when Ruben was the principal at that school.
RUBEN REYES: I was required to observe Crystal a couple of times a year. I was required to use a specific observational instrument. I was required to stay in her room for set amount of time and the instrument itself never helped us to have the kind of conversation we knew needed have to talk about what next steps for Crystal’s practice would be.
Luckily, we had a great working relationship, and Crystal had a lot of faith in me as her principal and I had a lot of faith in her as a teacher at my school, who I came to know as someone who was always working very hard to meet the needs of her students.
But the tool itself, the form that we were required to use never helped us with that process. We’d veer off the process in order have the kinds of conversations that we needed to have. It was a tool that was required, so it was a hoop that we would always jump through, but we would fill in all the blanks on the form and then we would have the meaning conversations we needed to have to. That helped me feel like I was making contributions to her profession and for her to have a trusted colleague provide her with some input that might give her some insight that would lead to improvements in her classroom.
That’s a long answer to the question, but the answer was that the process, as it was spelled out in our teacher contract, just did not lend itself to the kind of reflection that needed to take place on the part of the teacher.
So Ruben and his team set out to design a new way to conduct teacher evaluations. And I asked him, how did they do this collaboratively? How did they include input from the teachers union, and from individual teachers themselves?
RUBEN REYES: If I could take one step back, Ryan.
RUBEN REYES: I would say that even before the collaboration began, what we decided was that if we were going to talk about what teaching looks like. If we were going have conversations around what teaching should be in our school district, we decided we needed to common language around that. If we’re going to talk about what teaching should be in our district with our community and our student population, we should all have a common understanding of what effective teaching looks like.
This transformation of our teaching practices started with that little kernel of an idea. We all need, together, administrators and teachers, to have a common agreement about what should be happening in the classroom, so that we can be talking about whether or not it’s happening in the classroom.
And that was the piece to collaborate on. Right, let’s talk about that first and then we can work together to figure out the details beyond that.
What did the team that you pulled together look like to tackle this work? And how did you go about building it?
RUBEN REYES: Like I said, it really did start with that conversation with the then-president of our teachers’ association. And truly, we left it up to them to decide who would represent teachers. On my end, from the administrator side, it felt very important that I wanted, as the superintendent, to be very involved in this work. I felt like it was something that was very much at the core of we becoming a really effective teaching organization. So I wanted to personally involved.
I felt it was critical to involve my chief of human resources, who is someone who is well-versed, of course, in our teacher contract, as well as the Standards for the Teaching Profession. So I knew that she would bring a great resource to the conversation.
And then it felt very important to involve a principal in the process. We asked one of our site principals, someone who has experience in our district, who also had a history of being an effective teacher in our district to bring that perspective so that when we were designing what this might look like, she could represent the point of view of a district administrator who was actually going to perform the new process alongside teachers.
And then on the teachers side, I simply trusted the president of the union to find those people in her organization who she felt would bring the knowledge and experience that we would need to move this forward. This is how Crystal became involved, and she could probably tell you that story herself as to how that happened for her. But, she was one of those people that came forth as part of the teacher representatives on the Design Team, as we call it.
Crystal, I wonder if you could tell me about this from your perspective. What went through your mind when you were first approached to be a part of this team?
CRYSTAL SALADIN: I was excited from the very beginning. I was actually at a union meeting where the topic was brought up and there were two other teachers along with myself that both volunteered very quickly and said we were very interested in being a part of that. And then later down the line, we actually added our union president, feeling that was an important member that needed to be on the team.
But for myself, the minute I heard about it I was just all in, because in my many years of experience of being a teacher, I’ve had varying experiences with my site administrator as Ruben has told you, we worked together and that was a great collaboration. But that was only a small part of my career as an educator, and I didn’t always have the benefits of someone who could work collaboratively with me on my own professional growth.
I was just always hoping to get that back again after he became superintendent and was no longer my principal. It was really exciting for me to think that we were finally going to work on a new process and a new tool that would actually help teachers become better educators.
What was it like to be a part of this design team, Crystal? What kinds of things did you talk about? And how did the process work?
CRYSTAL SALADIN: All along the way, we started to have this saying that we felt like we were first of all starting from the beginning with this blank page, and then sometimes it felt like it was moving so slowly, it was never, ever going to come to fruition. And at other times, it was like, “Oh my gosh, we’re ready to try this,” I’d feel like we’ve moved too fast. And we’ve had to adapt the process and the forms and situations along the way. And we’re still changing it.
I feel like we as a group, the Design Team, had the same goal in mind in that we wanted an opportunity for teachers to grow professionally. To stop doing the everyday sayings. To be able to have a collaborative situation where they could have someone else have a conversation with them about their teaching. Which is why I was so passionate about it, because not all educators have a grade level partner that they feel like they can collaborate in that way, that they can say, “Hey, I want you to watch my teaching and really give me some reflective feedback on what I could improve on or what I could change.”
I feel like everybody was on board with creating a system that allowed for that. And that’s what I do as a peer. I’m not an administrator. I am still a teacher, still part of the union and I’m very careful to never use that word “evaluate” when I’m talking to another teacher, because as a peer, I cannot evaluate. Obviously I have some training and background that allow me to hopefully have some expertise, but I watch them teach and afterwards we sit down and we have a reflective conversation about how the lesson went. “What was the level of student engagement? What was the level of student achievement? Were there some things that maybe went wrong along the way or could have been done differently?” For me, that’s just exciting that I can offer that to a fellow educator.
I asked Crystal about her role in the process now, as a peer facilitator, and what kind of impact it’s had on her as a teacher and the teachers she works with. She said when she sets up an observation with a teacher — and teachers do need to be tenured for Crystal to work with them — she does her homework first, looks at that person’s goals ahead of time. She determines what precisely she’s going to watch for, to guide the conversation afterward.
CRYSTAL SALADIN: Am I looking for student engagement? Am I looking for oral language production, or written, or both? Often times I’ll even keep tally marks on targeted behavior so that I can sit and talk with them afterwards about what it is I saw, because I know very well after 31 years of being a classroom teacher, in that moment, there are so many things going through your mind of delivering quality instruction, managing classroom behaviors, that sometimes afterwards you’ll reflect on your lesson and go, “Oh my gosh, I completely forgot about this part,” or, “Wow, there was a missed opportunity there,” and as an educator, that was something I always tried to do after my lessons.
You don’t always have that opportunity through the course of day to always do that. Having someone else come in and be just that extra set of eyes that can give you the feedback that you might not have been able to process in that moment.
I’m very passionate about it, and having gone through the pilot year this year, I’ve had some terrific experiences. I worked with a twenty year veteran teacher this year who I think was a little reluctant to participate in the beginning. But after we finished the entire review cycle, we had a terrific conversation where she told me how much she appreciated the time that I spent, and not only watching her lessons, but talking to her about her lessons. That we could reflect together. She was also new to her grade level, so I had suggestions for her on how she could better collaborate with her grade level partner, things that she hadn’t thought about.
That made me feel good, that a teacher that’s been in this business for 20 years felt like they actually got something out of this process. And then I had sort of same experience, but with a much younger teacher, a fifth year teacher. She really felt like it was a beneficial for her to … After a few years of being a classroom teacher, now to have that opportunity to reflect with another teacher that wasn’t her grade level partner that could give her different input.
I asked, what were the changes they made to their process, both in teacher evaluations, but more broadly, to their efforts to improve instruction and reframe how they have conversations about what great teaching looks like. How does what they’re doing look different from how it looked before?
CRYSTAL SALADIN: I know that for myself, I always had goals that I would set at the beginning of each year. But I felt like those goals were most often specific to that class, to that particular year, and this process asks for our teachers to set more of a goal that’s a little bit broader than that. That really speaks to improving their practice as an educator and that right off the bat was a huge shift for us.
A huge part of the changes at Robla took place when Ruben, Crystal and their team began working with a center at UC Davis called Resourcing Excellence in Education. The REEd Center, as it’s known, developed the Strategic Observation and Reflection – or SOAR – Teaching Frames. The SOAR Teaching Frames are research-based, and are designed to help teachers, coaches and instructional leaders have observation and reflection cycles that lead to improvements in practice.
CRYSTAL SALADIN: With our work with REEd, we asked teachers to make sure that in their goal setting, at least one of those goals was centered around using the SOAR Teaching Frames and exploring the strategies that we have had some professional development on, so that I could see where they were in that process, and talk with them about whether they felt like they needed some more professional development in that area, and there were resources that I could access for that. Or if there were strategies they hadn’t yet tried. And those were all very big culture shifts for us.
RUBEN REYES: That’s a really important point that Crystal is making around the goal setting, which is really helping teachers to see that bigger picture around the work that they’re doing with their students. I think the piece I would add, would be that early on we came to the conclusion that when our system was up and running, that it would be a multifaceted system.
Previously, our system really relied almost exclusively on teacher observation. Some principal evaluated the teacher based upon what they saw when they went in for these two formal observations. We felt that that wasn’t the only thing that should be used to talk to a teacher about how to grow from where they are. So I’m excited that our system now includes not only teacher observation — I really feel like that’s still the core, because as Crystal described here, those are the most meaningful conversation you have with teachers around the lessons that they’re teaching and how they’re interacting with their students, and how their students are interacting with each other. So observation is still a big part. But we had these other facets of our system.
One is the teacher and what is happening with her professionally in terms of her own reflective work around her teaching. Teachers can talk about how they’re involved with their school beyond their classroom. Are they involved in committees? Are they taking any course work or professional learning opportunities? Are they reading any professional books? Things that many teachers do to gain knowledge and become more effective at what they do, but it was never really part of the system that recognized that.
So we’re excited that that’s part of the work that’s happening. And then the third piece is around student performance, which frankly was an area that the Design Team was a little scared to tackle from the beginning, because there is so much out there, politically, around tests scores, and should that be included in a teacher evaluation piece? We came up with the idea that if we are going to really look at teacher effectiveness, we do have to weigh in some aspect of student performance, but in our system the teacher has options.
The teacher has options as to what she may use to measure her effectiveness, but that it be something that’s related to the goals that she’s set. And we give the teacher some options that are open to ideas that the teacher brings to the table around, “If I say my students are going to become better writers and that my goal is around that, then what student evidence would we have?” What can we look at that students will be producing that will help us to see where you are in terms of making progress with that? So that’s another aspect of our system. So having this multifaceted approach, we think, is much more, not only fair to the teacher, but really does lead to an in-depth reflection on the part of the teacher as well.
Considering Crystal’s role, who as a teacher, now as a teacher leader, it sounds like this whole process really had an effect on what leadership looks like at Robla. Am I right?
RUBEN REYES: Yes, that’s correct. I think that that was something that we didn’t foresee, initially, as being part of the project, but has absolutely been a wonderful outgrowth from our system. It has created new ways for teachers to become leaders. People on our design team are definitely leading this work. They’re playing a really significant role in helping shape how we support our teachers.
This concept of a peer facilitator, a peer now who is coming in and helping you reflect on your work, is something that we’re really proud of, and we’re watching it be a really powerful thing for teachers — an option for them to have. That they can have a peer come and do that work with them. A peer, you know Crystal was in a classroom herself, just last year. So they know she has recent experience.
She, of course, has a very strong reputation as an effective teacher. It’s not an accident that she’s our peer facilitator. She’s highly qualified to be doing this work. That’s something of great value and contributes greatly to the process for the teachers that she’s working with.
I asked Ruben to talk more about their work with the REEd Center at UC Davis. He said they helped Robla put processes into place to help with this whole massive undertaking.
RUBEN REYES: Their facilitation of our Design Team meetings initially — about how to tackle such a huge, huge concept and break it down into manageable pieces, that research background that they had about how to approach a larger concept such as this — was really beneficial to us.
But ultimately, the most significant piece, he said, was the SOAR Teaching Frames themselves, this observation and reflection tool that they use.
CRYSTAL SALADIN: There’s actually a rubric that teachers are very familiar with and a tool that I use during my observations. Each frame has a particular focus, shall we say, and disciplinary communication is the one that we’ve been focusing on for, I’m going to say, the last two years. Within disciplinary communication, there are two elements. Oral language being one and then written language being the second.
What we’re really trying to do is help our teachers understand that their lesson delivery needs to have particular elements added to it. In past practices, teachers would stand and lecture to a class or what we would call “teach.” And now, what we’re looking for are actual opportunities for students to participate in that process of oral language and written language. So those are the sort of things I’m looking for.
And then within that there are three different cross cutting practices. The first one is academic language, if they’ve chosen to focus on the academic language, which as we know, with our EL population, is almost an absolute must for every lesson. Then there’s different elements that pertain to that.
Monitoring and guiding the instruction is another one of the cross cutting practices, and that one is really exciting for me, because even if a teacher’s working on academic language, I like to keep track of their monitoring and guiding and how they shift their lesson during their lesson based on student responses, and what’s happening with their students. Often teachers don’t realize that they’re actually doing a lot of that. So that’s exciting for me when I can point out to them exact examples of what it is they’ve done during their lesson, and how I saw their lesson take shape and change during that time.
The third cross cutting practice is metacognition. That, I think, has become a bit of buzzword around here. It’s a new concept for a lot of teachers that have been teaching for a long time, and as I like to say, when I’m having reflective conversation, is not something that happens by accident — it’s very deliberate, when you’re actually breaking down what it is you’re teaching, and why students need to know that and how they would use it. That has been very critical, also for our EL learners. In the process of a lesson, if they understand that using this graphic organizer is going to help them when they get to that portion of the lesson where they have to write, that the teacher has explicitly instructed them on pieces that are going to need to be in there and why they need to be in there and how to use them, it’s just really, I think, increasing our student achievement level.
The third portion of the frame is the foundational practices. This where we actually look at, are you obviously using the Common Core Standards? What’s the level of rigor within the lesson? How was the lesson structured? Was it all over the place? Or did it seem very sequential. And I think that the SOAR Frame has just really helped our teachers and myself as an observer, hone in on the important aspects that need to be in their lesson delivery. By having professional development centered around that, it really helps us take a deeper look at making sure all of those minute pieces are being included in their lesson delivery.
There’s a lot of talk in education today about differentiation and meeting each student where they’re at, or meeting each teacher where they’re at. How does all of the work that you’re doing at Robla help you to meet each teacher right where they are, whether they happen to be a thirty year veteran or relatively new to the field?
CRYSTAL SALADIN: I’m going to take that one too, because I think that is the heart of what I do. Whenever I meet with a practitioner — that’s what we refer to our teachers when they’re going through the review cycle — whenever I meet with a practitioner, my initial conversation with them is, I want them to understand that I’m not here to tell them that they’re doing something right or wrong. I’m not here to tell them that I was a better classroom teacher than they are. I’m absolutely here to see where they are in the process of becoming a better educator and talk to them about what my suggestions would be for them to move to the next level.
It’s basically the way I approached my teaching with my students. Each student was at a different level, and what did I need to do as an educator to get them to that next step. That’s how I look at it with my practitioners.
Aside from connecting teachers and administrators to work together on constructing a new system for teacher evaluation, are there specific changes, be they cultural or otherwise, that you’ve made at Robla to make this vision of great teachers in every classroom a reality?
RUBEN REYES: You know, Ryan, I would say yes, because the work that we’re doing around our professional growth system really has had an impact on our culture and how we look at leadership. Based partially upon on this work, and the idea that teachers coaching teachers seems to be a really effective way to provide support.
We have in our district Professional Learning Support Teachers, PLSTs, who are teachers who have one foot in the classroom and one foot as a coach. So two teachers share a classroom. If they’re not teaching, they’re providing coaching to a colleague. The interface between them, and principals and the role that they play, and Crystal and the role that she plays, is creating this multifaceted approach to providing teachers and our PLSTs, along with our Design Team, with people like Crystal really are the people that help set the direction.
So no longer is our professional learning, for example, just our curriculum and instruction director sitting down and saying, “Oh, it’s time to adopt the new science standards and we better be looking at new science materials.” It’s really sitting down with all of these teacher leaders about where we are and what needs to happen next. So again, it makes it all much more collaborative, and really has strengthened the voice that teachers have in setting direction in Robla.
I’m sure that this entire process has been and continues to be a learning experience for you, and my guess is that you’re continuing to iterate as you go along. What are some of the lessons that you’ve come away with? What has really worked well and what might you change if you were to do it again?
CRYSTAL SALADIN: Wow, I feel like there have been so many changes over the course of this year. We’ve had to have this culture shift of teachers working with a teacher, and then administrators had to let go, for want of a better word, had to let go of that. That they had to trust that I would be working with the teacher, and that if I saw some things that were really, really bad, that I would have a conversation with them, their administrator. But, if not, then they were basically in my hands for that year and that at the end of the year, the administrator would be able to confidently sign off on me working with one of their staff members.
So that was, I think, a big hurdle we had to overcome in the beginning. But then moving forward, we just had to continue to refine our process so that it didn’t create this tremendous amount of paperwork for our practitioners, the teachers. Because I felt, well not just myself, but the team, we all agreed that we didn’t want the professional growth to get lost in the process. If teachers were spending so much time writing goals and lessons and reflecting that they weren’t really embracing it as much as just trying to get the job done.
We definitely had to do a little paring down. I think with we were very ambitious in our first round there. We’ve pared down the forms. We’ve made them quite a bit easier for them to do, to complete. But still keeping at the heart of that, the point is that we want them to reflect on their own instruction. That, I guess has just been the biggest hurdle this year for us, but as I said earlier, in the end, the six practitioners that I worked with this year, they all told me that they felt that it was a worthwhile process. That it made them look at their teaching in a little different way.
I had a very exemplary teacher that I was working with say to me, “Oh my gosh, I have never done anything with metacognition, I don’t know anything about metacognition, that wasn’t my focus this year, but now I know moving forward, that that’s something that I need to do a little bit more studying and research on and learn more about how to incorporate that in my teaching.” I feel like that’s a great success that we’ve had with this already just in the first year, that even though you could be a really great teacher, there’s always something that you can continue to grow.
RUBEN REYES: And Ryan, I think I would add … In terms of the question that you asked about what we might do differently, I would say something in there around communication. The Design Team consistently talked about how to communicate with our teachers and our administrators around this work. We’ve been very deliberate. We’ve been very collaborative about writing letters that we would send out to teachers. We would create those letters together. We would talk very strategically around when the best time for that letter to go out would be. We were extremely thoughtful around presentations that we would create to help everybody, keep everybody informed. I would, along with the other administrators on the design team, would take information back regularly to the rest of the cabinet. Crystal and the other teachers would take the information back to union meetings and again, and again, we would find that we hadn’t communicated enough.
So I would say our lesson was, even when you think you’re communicating all that you can, you need to find a more ways to communicate and make sure that you’re keeping everybody informed, because we have occasionally in this process come against the wall where someone felt that they weren’t informed. Someone felt that they didn’t hear that this was coming. Someone felt that they did not quite understand what we were trying to get at here, despite the fact that we had tried so many different strategies to communicate. That’s probably a lesson that we learned here, is just continuing to focus on that is so important to a big change process such as this.
CRYSTAL SALADIN: I would just like to add that I recently had a practitioner suggest that, perhaps moving forward, we have a meeting or two throughout the year to check in with all the practitioners. Especially if they were working with their site administrator, they sometimes felt like they weren’t sure what their next steps were, and site administrators are very, very busy people. Trying to connect with them, just to even ask questions, was sometimes problematic, and that’s something I didn’t see coming that I thought was a very good suggestion. That we kind of left them a little bit on their own, more than we probably should have.
RUBEN REYES: Ryan, I think that it’s important to make sure that we talk a little bit about the fact that this is all possible because of the relationships that we have built amongst the professionals in our school district. We have had, as Design Team members — now I’m just taking the small group of seven people — we have had to have some very difficult conversations around what some things should or shouldn’t look like. How teachers will respond to it? What will a teacher think if we decide to do that? Will a teacher feel valued? Does the principal have enough time to do this kind of thing? All of these very difficult conversations really needed us to come to agreement so that we could make a recommendation about how to create this system. And we were able to do that because we continued to be a very functional design team.
I think it’s worth mentioning, a high level of professionalism and paying attention to nurturing the professional relationships that you have between teachers and administrators in a district is something that you shouldn’t take for granted. If that’s something that needs some nurturing, then pay attention to that, and be sure that you’re strategic around making sure that everybody feels included, and valued, and able to participate fully in a conversation. Because that is the foundation, I feel, that a system such as this can be built upon.
Ruben Reyes is superintendent and Crystal Saladin is a peer facilitator at Robla School District in Sacramento, California. Ruben and Crystal, I want to thank you both for taking the time to speak with me today.
RUBEN REYES: Our pleasure.
CRYSTAL SALADIN: Thank you.
If you enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe – you can find us on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or pretty much anywhere else fine podcasts are served. Field Trip is a production from Frontline Education — bringing you the Frontline Insights Platform, a holistic software solution for K-12, designed to help you recruit, hire, engage, retain and grow your employees, and provide unparalleled insights into what’s happening in your district.
For Frontline Education, I’m Ryan Estes. Thanks for listening, and have a great day.