The PROSE Newsletter: February 2015 Issue
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Volume 1 | Issue 3 | February 2015

Spreading the PROSE Love!

On February 6th 2015, 37 current PROSE schools attended the Mid-Year Symposium. The event was well received with a kick-off by Giselle Martin-Kniep from Learner-Centered Initiatives, who worked with schools to explore the impact that PROSE has on adult, student and organizational learning and their potential measures. This thoughtful discussion was followed with an engaging exercise in creating a Theory of Change led by John Martin of the PROSE team and Sean Fischer of RPSG. As a result, eight current PROSE schools have signed on to play a critical role in the PROSE Participatory Action Research (PAR) Project. These eight schools will work closely with the PROSE evaluation team to craft a theory of action for their schools' PROSE plans; develop metrics to inform implementation and outcomes; and execute individualized, school-based plans for monitoring success.

The PAR schools will share their findings and receive supplemental online support in the PAR virtual community, which also kicked off during the February Mid-Year Symposium. All current PROSE schools now have access to the PROSE Professional Learning Community (PLC) on the WeTeachNYC platform. This comprehensive virtual space not only has communities of schools organized by innovation with corresponding school contact information, but also houses a School Calendar Scheduling Policy module that describes various scheduling scenarios and sundry implementation options within current policy parameters. PROSE schools beginning to plan their calendars, schedules, and program assignments for next year should be mindful that flexibilities are available beyond what can be approved via an SBO vote such as: shifting teacher calendars, flexibility with class sizes, etc. Planning should be done now with the April PROSE vote in sight. Visit the PROSE PLC for School Calendar Scheduling support. Please email for access.

In addition to these great mentions, the PROSE team sends love to: Dr. Dorita Gibson for attending the afternoon panel and bestowing words of wisdom; Michael Mulgrew for providing a riveting moderation of the school panel; and to Bronx Park Middle School, KAPPA International, Lyons Community School, The Brooklyn International High School, and Brooklyn New School for spreading PROSE love to the larger PROSE community. Happy Belated Valentine's!

Option PROSE in Action at Lyons Community School and The Brooklyn International High School

This month, we reconnected with Lyons Community High School and The Brooklyn International High School following the afternoon school panel at our February PROSE Symposium. Both schools are implementing Option PROSE, the teacher evaluation observation option available to PROSE schools.

Lyons Community School serves students in grades 6-12 in Brooklyn and is currently piloting Option PROSE with approximately 23% of its teachers. Taeko Onishi, principal of Lyons Community School, kindly shared some additional thoughts about implementing Option PROSE with her teachers.  
PROSE: What are you trying to accomplish in your school and how are you using Option Prose to support it?
TO: We are trying to continue our long-term goal of spending our valuable time doing work that is meaningful and purposeful. We all want to have the time to do more in-depth thinking about our practice, and the idea of following a line of inquiry appeals to us until we are forced to make decisions around priorities in the day-to-day of our work. By using the PROSE teacher evaluation option (Option PROSE), teachers who have opted in are able to make this kind of work part of their official practice. This gives the added motivation and structure to their inquiry questions. People are pursuing the questions that most deeply impact their practice and interest, which makes the work richer and more inspired.

PROSE: How did you approach piloting this in your school?
TO: We asked to see who was interested and all interested parties joined. Since we were taking on so many new initiatives this year, we didn't push people to join. Instead, we talked about this group trying something out this year that we would be able to roll out far more coherently next year.

PROSE: What are the conditions and/or structures in your school that enabled you to pilot this?
TO: We were able to utilize teacher team structures that already exist in our community. In these groups, teachers are accustomed to sharing ideas and challenges. This open collaboration and willingness to share struggles made it easy for teachers to tackle inquiry questions that were most pressing and close to their core. Mostly it feels as if we are giving some new freedoms to let people make their work feel more genuine, so in this way, it is about the condition of teacher care about their work and internal desire to improve their practice. That's a condition I think all teachers possess.

PROSE: For other schools considering this potentially for next year, what advice and/or lessons learned might you be able to share with them?
TO: Beyond the regular face-to-face check ins and meetings, make sure there is some kind of written component teachers are completing at least monthly to help them keep on track. Finding strategies that are open enough to accommodate all the ideas, but that continue to move things along can be challenging. It is a good idea to have a sub-group (or more time with the full group) to talk about the structures needed to make the work work given the culture of your school.

Kathleen Rucker, principal of The Brooklyn International High School, was also kind enough to share with us additional thoughts about what her school is focused on. Students at The Brooklyn International High School participate in authentic, experiential, interdisciplinary projects which culminate in portfolio presentations of their work to their peers, teachers, administrators and others. The school is currently implementing Option PROSE.
PROSE: What are you trying to accomplish in your school and how are you using PROSE to support of that?
KR: Through our involvement with PROSE, we have been able to create a comprehensive teacher portfolio process which focuses on the teacher's individual goals and assessment of areas for improvement. Teachers use their goals as a launching point to drive and reflect on their professional growth over the year. Feedback from colleagues and administrators is provided several times over the course of the year through curriculum shares, inter-visitations, and informal observations. PROSE has allowed us to remain committed to our core principle, "One model for all," meaning that as a performance based assessment school, both teachers and students are evaluated based on reflective portfolios.
PROSE: How did you approach this in your school and what have you learned?
KR: Our teachers voted unanimously in favor of Option PROSE. Many of the pieces of the teacher portfolio were already part of our professional practice, including inter-visitations and curriculum shares, but PROSE provided a framework and network of like-minded schools to support the work that was already a part of our school culture. Our professional development committee serves as a sounding board through which teachers can ask questions or express concerns about the teacher portfolio process. I have learned the importance of keeping an open dialogue when piloting new programs such as Option PROSE, so that all teachers feel that they can choose the evaluation option that best supports their professional growth.

As of February 23rd, 44 schools have applied to be a part of PROSE.  \If your school has a highly collaborative culture and is interested in joining PROSE, please click above to COMPLETE the 2015 - 2016 PROSE application. An annotated version of the application can also be accessed on the PROSE Knowledge Base prior to your completion.  Hurry!!! Applications are due February 27th

Current PROSE schools are not required to reapply.


 Policy Update

Answers to many of the Frequently Asked Questions from PROSE schools have been posted on the PROSE Knowledge Base.

Option PROSE:
While continuation is still pending and subject to potential changes in the NYS Education Law, current schools interested in implementing Option PROSE for the 2015-2016 school year should communicate this to the Panel as soon as possible via an updated and/or additional Check-In Form. For more information about implementing Option PROSE, please see resources on the PROSE Knowledge Base. To connect with schools who are currently implementing Option PROSE, access the Teacher Evaluation PLC on WeTeachNYC.  
With the buzz around Use of Time, school calendars and scheduling innovations, the PROSE team encourages principals and teachers to share creative ideas that maximize time for student and/or professional growth. If  you have an exciting concept that other schools can learn from and/or implement, please share by completing the 40 Ideas for Creative Uses of Time form within the PROSE PLC.
Would you like to further your PROSE school support by hosting a school site visit or visiting a fellow PROSE school? The PROSE team is offering to broker these relationships and visits by providing per diem funding. Hosting and visiting schools will share resources and video reflections of the visit within the PROSE Inter-visitation Group in the PROSE PLC. Please complete the PROSE School Inter-visitation Form to get started.
 February 25 - Mastery Collaborative Event: Join the Mastery Collaborative, led by the Office of Postsecondary Readiness from 4 PM to 6 PM, as they present Platforms and Tools that Support Mastery-Based Tracking. There will be featured discussions and showcases with representatives from: Jumprope, Haiku Learning, Schoology, Masteryconnect, itslearning, JupiterEd, and Skedula (Datacation). The session will explore how schools can use technology to increase the effectiveness of mastery assessment, as well as grading software features and functions of mastery-based systems. Please bear in mind that this session is open to Mastery Collaborative schools and has a limit of three members per school. Register Now.

 March 4 - The Theory of Change Webinar: The PROSE team encourages all current PROSE schools to join us from 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM during which time we will share the Theory of Change (TOC) we developed as a PROSE program. This will be an opportunity for you and other members of your team to see an example of the process and product of creating a TOC and also, as our most important stakeholders, for you to ask questions, comment and offer suggestions for improvementRegister Now.

 SAVE THE DATE: May 4 - PROSE End-of-Year Celebration: Register Now.
Interest in the PROSE wikispace continues to grow each month.  By month's end, the wikispace is projected to attract 1272 visitors total. You can be our next unique visitor by clicking
Meet the PROSE Team: Jackie Bennett

Jackie Bennett has been involved in shaping the new NYC teacher evaluation system since 2011. She was a very active member of the NY State Regents Task Force, which advised the State on the learning measures associated with evaluation. After the Task Force’s work was finished, she continued working with the state as an advisor on learning measures through their Metrics Working Group. Ms. Bennett currently leads the UFT PROSE initiative with three other UFT PROSE Panel members. Through PROSE, the UFT and DOE are working with collaborative schools to design and implement their own innovations, even when those innovations require flexibility in city regulations and the UFT teacher’s contract with the NYC Department of Education.
"We created 62 PROSE schools - a fresh, new model where teachers and principals work together to set aside DOE and union rules that hinder we can better serve our kids."
~Mayor Bill de Blasio -  State of the City Remarks
Copyright © 2015 Office of School Design & Charter Partnerships, PROSE, All rights reserved.

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