See the Effective Teachers Initiative in action at these HISD schools:
Pin Oak Middle School - Building a Great Instructional Team
As the principal of one of HISD’s top-performing middle schools, Susan Monaghan has always prioritized building a great instructional team.
She views every hiring decision as an opportunity to select a highly engaged teacher who challenges students and holds them to high standards. Once teachers are hired, she uses the teacher appraisal and development system to zero in on the core principles of great teaching and have regular conversations with teachers about how to better meet students’ needs.
“Through the Effective Teachers Initiative, we’re doing so much more as a district to define effective teaching with clarity so we can help teachers reach their goals and be the best they can be,” Principal Monaghan explained. “That’s a win for everyone—especially our students.”
Osborne Elementary School - Focusing on Student Learning
Located in the Acres Homes community, Osborne Elementary School serves some of Houston’s most at-risk children. To help her students succeed, Ms. Parnell prioritizes finding and keeping excellent teachers such as pre-kindergarten teacher Ms. Alicia Hermosillo and Mr. Adrian Ortiz, a four-time bilingual teacher of the year.
“I’m 100% committed to rigor,” Ms. Hermosillo explained. “For instance, under the state’s Pre-K standards, kids are supposed to be able to count from 1-30. My students learn that in the first three months. Now we’re working on the 100s. Likewise, my pre-kindergarteners can’t read, but I don’t tell them that! I label everything in the classroom and pretend they can read the labels. If you have high expectations for kids, they rise to meet them.”
Mr. Ortiz agrees. “I work to make sure that my kindergarten students are able to read high frequency word lists for First Grade, so they can concentrate their efforts on more complex tasks. I also tell my students every day that I expect them to be engineers, architects, lawyers, teachers, and doctors—and when I tell them again and again, they begin to believe it.”
As student outcomes are included in teachers’ appraisals, Ms. Parnell has begun working with teachers to reinforce best practices for increasing student learning, such as setting individual student goals based on their starting points, crafting high-quality assessments, and using data to drive instruction.
“The system is fair because every teacher has the opportunity to show growth,” said Ms. Parnell. “It’s a big change, so of course it’s not going to be easy. But now that we’ve had our Goal Setting Conferences, I’m feeling confident that paying attention to student outcomes is helping our teachers meet their students’ needs.”
Berry Elementary School - A Culture of Feedback and Trust
In her five years as Principal at Berry Elementary School, Deborah Silber has done a remarkable job instilling a culture of feedback and trust with her teachers. As a result, her teachers have been able to take advantage of the power that can be achieved through HISD’s new appraisal and development system for teachers—and they’ve seen an immediate impact on their students’ progress.