If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.—Ignacio Estrada
Elo and educator effectiveness Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) is an innovative teaching and learning platform designed to ignite the unique potential of every child through the creation and delivery of dramatically customized learning experiences. ELO creatively and systematically integrates a vast range of new and existing teaching and learning tools, resources, modules and approaches into more personalized, engaging and relevant learning experiences that tap into each student’s passions, interests and learning styles inside and outside of the classroom.
Educator Effectiveness in Colorado’s Context In 2010, Colorado adopted a revolutionary statewide educator evaluation system focused on student academic growth and designed to improve professional practice and inform hiring, promotion, compensation, and professional development decisions. As part of this system, Colorado’s State Board of Education was required to establish definitions of “effectiveness” for teachers and principals, as well as statewide minimum standards for what it means to be an effective teacher or principal. Teachers and principals will be evaluated annually under the new system and must be evaluated at least 50 percent on the academic growth of their students.
What is the connection between ELO and educator effectiveness? As Colorado works to implement the new system, educators will need to be evaluated by, and supported in, their ability to effectively meet the needs of every student in their classroom. Igniting the unique potential of every student through personalization is at the center of Colorado’s vision for ELO. This means educators use what they know about students’ background knowledge, approaches to learning, and current level of achievement to engage even the most reluctant student, and provide the right instruction, at the right time, in a way that matches how they learn best. Making the connections between ELO and educator effectiveness means working at the school and classroom levels to rethink how educators are organized and supported. For example, implementing new staffing models that maximize: individual educator expertise; teacher collaboration time; quality learning time for students; and coaching, differentiated instruction, and experiential learning. Similarly, offering professional development that support educators ability to: know each student well through regular diagnosis of individual data; modularize content; vary delivery models; deliver quality instruction in online and blended settings; and use technology, community partners, and data to individualize learning. A five-year goal of the ELO Initiative is that Colorado school districts will implement new staffing models that maximize and match educator expertise with students’ needs in order to expand professional opportunities for educators and amplify learning time for students.
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Why is this important? Human capital is an essential component of the ELO vision and is reimagined to better leverage individual educator skills and interests with student needs. This includes rethinking how time, community partners, and technology can be brought to better support teachers in creating customized learning experiences, as well as how student and educator schedules can be made more agile and responsive to the changing dynamics of the learning environment.
What are the benefits for students and teachers? ELO empowers educators to transform the school day, maximize their strengths, and access a broader range of quality teaching and learning opportunities. It provides educators with the tools, flexibility, support, and resources to do what they do best – teach – and to focus more of their energy on delivering high-quality instruction and providing more personalized attention to each student. The key elements of the ELO vision are meant to aid and accelerate the efforts of district, school, and classroom leaders in the implementation and evaluation of Quality Standards for principals and teachers. For example: How do elements of the ELO vision support educator effectiveness? Knowing the student means educators know what More timely and accessible data will support educators’ students know, can do, and are ready for, as well as, ability to engage students as individuals with unique what motivates them and how they work and learn best. interests and strengths (Teacher Quality Standard IIc), make instruction and content relevant to students and take actions to connect students’ background and contextual knowledge with new information being taught (Teacher Quality Standard If). Modularizing content means educators have access This ability to unbundle content will support educators to varied and flexible instructional tools and resources in adapting their teaching for the benefit of all students, that allow them to offer content to students that is including those with special needs, across a range of presented in different ways, at different paces, and with ability levels (Teacher Quality Standard IId) and adjusting different support. They use what they know about each their strategies for students not achieving mastery or student to determine next steps, grade, as well as course needing acceleration. completion and earned credit. Maximizing time means schools make the best use Thinking differently about time will support principals’ of each minute in the day and each day in the year. ability to meaningfully evaluate teachers and staff Calendars and schedules are driven by student learning (Principal Quality Standard IVc), establish sustainable priorities and are organized to support educators’ ability systems for staffing, budget, and other school resources to engage in the assessment and planning required to (Principal Quality Standard Va), and ensure use of data deliver personalized approaches. to drive academic growth for every student (Principal Quality Standard VIIc).
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What’s next? ELO Initiative implementation priorities and other upcoming opportunities: • Empowering educators to ignite the unique potential of every student through dramatically personalized learning experiences is a cornerstone of Colorado’s vision for ELO. CLF will be looking to highlight and invest in proof points, partners, and exemplars that model the connections between ELO and educator effectiveness. • In order to create highly effective learning experiences for students that reflect the ELO vision, Colorado needs a workforce that is comfortable with, and trained in, the use of these strategies. As such, the Colorado Legacy Foundation (CLF) and Colorado Department of Education (CDE) will work on the following strategies over the next two years: • Identify and offer access to partners in the field that provide technical assistance and professional development to help schools and districts incorporate ELO strategies into their learning environments. • Work with two to three existing schools of education (including teacher, library, administrator, and education/ technology prep programs) and at least one alternative provider (e.g., Teach for America) to adapt their teacher preparation programs to better prepare their graduates for working in ELO environments. • Integrate ELO strategies into the recommendations for redesign of the educator licensure system in Colorado currently being examined by The New Teacher Project and CDE’s educator effectiveness team. Recommendations from Colorado’s ELO Commission related to educator effectiveness: • Develop teacher and principal accountability/evaluation models that account for “team” teaching and multiple modes of student learning. • Create flexibility in staffing models, which may include examining teacher licensure and evaluation and the definition of what qualifies as a teacher. • Offer support and professional development to educators around quality instruction in online and blended settings. • Work with universities and teacher preparation institutions to consider new ways of educating teachers and administrators to include the use of technology, community partners and data to individualize learning. • Provide leadership around models that enable schools to be flexible about school staffing, structure and schedules within the school day and calendar year. Questions for consideration: • What supports can be provided to teachers and schools to build capacity to incorporate meaningful community partnerships aligned to standards and tied to student learning? • How can educator effectiveness data and evaluations be used to partner teachers with the type of students and content they teach best? • How can educator evaluations and supports incorporate effectiveness around team teaching, use of technology and blended learning instruction to customize student learning? 1 6 6 0 L i n c o l n S t . , S u i t e 2 7 2 0 * D e n v e r, C O 8 0 2 6 4 * ( 3 0 3 ) 7 3 6 . 6 4 7 7 * i n f o @ c o l e g a c y. o r g