At a Glance
Three CTCs in Central PA (CCCTC, CPI, and SCAHS) work together to provide Authentic Collaborative Training (ACT) for new and experienced teachers to visit CTE programs at each other’s schools and be a part of scheduled learning walks. The walks provide teachers with an opportunity to observe instructional practices and resources used by other CTE teachers while gaining awareness and perspective of other programs.
The Clearfield County CTC, Central PA Institute of Science and Technology, and State College Area CTC all worked together to design and implement the ACT program in order to provide Authentic Collaborative Training during the 2021-22 school year. This program provided two training activities at each school for a total of six days. Each training day focused on specific educational topics and was planned by the designated administrator for each school along with an educational consultant. Some of the topics included: student motivation, growth mindset, differentiated instruction, and assessment rubrics. Administrators would also ensure that a good variety of program clusters were represented for each learning walk to provide a well-rounded and diverse experience. These topics were selected after analyzing data collected from teachers using a needs assessment survey as well as reviewing patterns of deficiency in evaluations.
The ACT events all started with a brief morning meeting to cover the designated topic as well as provide orientation and background of the school where the activity occurred. This was followed by a learning walk in which participants would be guided through the school and visit three to five designated CTE programs for a 15-30 minute experience in each area. During this time, participants would observe teaching and classroom management strategies, tour the facilities and layout, and have an opportunity for questions and answers. After the learning walk concluded, the group of participants would have a networking luncheon followed by an afternoon workshop to reflect and discuss what teachers observed during the learning walks.
In preparation for the learning walk, both teachers who were scheduled to present and those scheduled to observe were provided with an agenda and overview outlining the focus and expectations. Learning walk participants completed an observation form with guided questions when they were in the classroom and then completed a reflection form after the learning walk. All teachers who participated in these events benefit greatly as they have the opportunity to network with other CTE teachers in related and unrelated content areas of their own. This helps to provide positive support, camaraderie, and real-life examples of teaching strategies and practice. The ACT events also provide teachers an opportunity to ask questions and share resources across different schools and clusters and feel like they are part of a bigger team.
Scheduling substitute coverage and assigning teachers topics to present are the two greatest challenges to scheduling and organizing the learning walks. To address these challenges, administrators use a needs assessment survey, evaluations, and an educational consultant to identify key topics and develop a set schedule to cover specific topics throughout the year. The schools use Perkins funds and general budget funds to help pay for substitute coverage and consulting fees. The three schools worked together and consulted with James Daniel Associates to develop and facilitate the learning walks and other PLC events.
This practice is primarily funded by general operating funds. However, there are strategies within this model that cost nothing, such as building and securing relationships with business and industry partners that come from diverse backgrounds.