The Syracuse City School District supported the Teacher Center facility and the Coordinator’s position this past school year (2014-15) and continued the program on a limited basis. We hope to restore many of the successful programs and add to current initiatives to provide the best resources for the constituents we serve. However, we understand that complete restoration is not possible with the current funding, so we are continuing our partnership with the district by collaborating with district staff that will provide professional development in areas identified by our Policy Board and SCSD district initiatives.
Facility – The Syracuse Teacher Center provides a 12,000-square-foot professional development facility for the public and non-public schools in Syracuse. There is free parking for over 100 cars. It is open 8:00am-5:00pm daily including the summer months, and will extend its hours to meet the needs of groups beyond regular hours..
Staff – In order to maximize this year’s grant funding the Syracuse Teacher Center will have a full-time Director who is supported solely through Teacher Center funding and one full-time clerical support staff position. While the facility offers many benefits to the educators in Syracuse, we also plan to access professional staff within the district to provide the additional professional development that promotes improved student achievement through district-wide and site-based in-service courses and individual consultations.
Teacher Support – The STC provides support to teachers in a variety of ways:
Technology – Technology plays an important role in the program at the Syracuse Teacher Center.
National Board – National Board Certification is achieved upon successful completion of a voluntary assessment program designed to recognize effective and accomplished teachers who meet high standards based on what teachers should know and be able to do. As part of the certification process, candidates complete 10 assessments that include four portfolio entries that feature teaching practice and six constructed response exercises that assess content knowledge. The STC will offer support and training to all current National Board Certified teachers who will be leading colleagues through this process and to all candidates pursuing certification. In addition, the STC will facilitate a grant through NBPTS to support Take One! candidates to take the first step for National Board Certification.
Professional Development – The STC Policy Board will work with the STC staff and SCSD staff to plan, implement and evaluate quality professional development programs focused on identified areas. This will be accomplished by offering varied opportunities to work with educators to improve instruction and student achievement. We will promote and sustain continuous development, growth, and examination of practice with clearly defined expectations and commitment to change.
As a teacher center serving an urban community, the STC must assist teachers in meeting the needs of students from a variety of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Language other than English is spoken in 16.5% of SCSD students’ homes and. Understanding and valuing diversity continues to be a focus of the Syracuse City School District. We assist teachers in recognizing and using diversity to enhance classroom instruction. We are especially committed to sensitizing and supporting new teachers who do not readily identify with, and struggle to understand, many of their students. We will continue to support Courageous Conversations About Race, Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) and Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS), programs active in all the city schools.
The STC professional development program is informed by the organizational goals of the Syracuse City School District’s Plan. The six focus areas of this plan are literacy, student engagement, family partnerships, diversity, facilities, finance, and leadership development. As a teacher center serving a large urban population, our work is also defined by the strategies and tasks identified in the District’s Strategic Plan. Our superintendent, Sharon L. Contreras, will be revising that plan with input from all key stakeholders from inside the District and from key stakeholders in the community including parents, business representatives, IHEs, and community partners. The STC has aligned its goals to support the SCSD Strategic Plan. Individual and organizational goals are supported through District and site-based in-service courses, on-line courses, Educational Horizon Opportunities, Site-Based Professional Development Support, professional portfolios, action research, Collaborative Coaching and Learning, peer coaching, PLC's, and National Board Certification support. The Teacher Center Policy Board recognizes the importance of supporting teachers in schools which are not served by state and federal grant programs, and that it is necessary for the STC to provide services to staff members in these buildings.
Collaboration is a powerful tool for building capacity to meet the needs of our constituents. STC staff and Policy Board members work closely with the Syracuse Teachers Association, the SCSD Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Division and will be partnering the SCSD Network Team to support Race to the Top initiatives. STC staff will assist in the implementation of a professional development program for SCSD staff that are serving as Instructional Support Teachers and Coaches along with Academic Instructional Support (AIS) teachers. The STC is involved in coordinating the School-Based Intervention Team (S-BIT) Project in collaboration with Say Yes to Education and the Promise Zone/PBIS project. The STC supports implementation of the SESIS grant along with the office of Assistive Technology that is housed at the STC providing programs and sharing resources for students with disabilities. Projects outlined by local and state initiatives such as those with Partners for Education and Business, School-to-Career Partnerships and other Eastern Upstate Teacher Centers will be continued.
Other collaborations include Say Yes to Education, SUNY Cortland, Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center-SUNY Morrisville, Central New York Education Consortium, CNY Reads, The Onondaga Historical Association, The Syracuse Newspapers, Family Literacy Alliance of Greater Syracuse, the Landmark Theatre, Partners for Arts Education, Museum of Science and Technology, CNY Council on Adolescent Pregnancy, SECNY Federal Credit Union, and our local public television affiliate WCNY-TV. These efforts provide a variety of services, which not only enrich the education of our students, but also help us address the diverse professional development needs of our teachers.
The Common Core Learning Standards require that novice and experienced teachers provide outstanding research-based instruction, informed by assessment, to improve student engagement and academic achievement. To meet these goals we design programs that support teachers in the use of student data to make instructional decisions. We offer programs on the effective use of research-based instructional strategies, including differentiated and brain-compatible instruction.
Literacy instruction remains a major focus for professional development in the Syracuse City School District. We will continue to support initiatives in this area. Activities outlined in the district's strategic plan that include support for teachers, administrators and teaching assistants responsible for implementation of the Pre-K to 12 curriculum including differentiation of instruction to meet the needs of all learners; designing professional development to assist all teachers in ways to integrate literacy in all content areas; assisting instructional and all administrative staff in the use of data to improve student achievement; and providing ongoing job-embedded professional development and collaborative opportunities. We will continue regular and in-depth collaboration with the SCSD to support instructional coaches specialists by nurturing their leadership skills and expanding their knowledge base to help all teachers improve reading and writing instruction.
Promoting and supporting technology integration is a major focal point of the STC program. Teacher center staff has worked with the SCSD Elementary Division and the AIS teachers on the district-wide information system, eSchool, an online student information program that records student progress monitoring and achievement data, and IEP Direct, an online application for centralizing all the data for special education students’ IEPs. The STC technology program offers district-wide and site-based courses, workshops and one-on-one support on a wide variety of topics focused on improving student achievement. Offerings include the Intel Teach program, Thinkfinity Literacy, Education and Technology for end users and for individuals interested in becoming certified trainers, Smart Board integration, linking literacy and technology, developing projects that integrate technology into all curricular areas, and online tools to support instruction. The STC provides an educational technology center with a computer lab, wireless Internet access, a large format poster printer, digital cameras, LCD projectors, document cameras and distant learning/online meeting equipment.
The Syracuse City School District has implemented a new teacher induction program to meet New York State certification requirements and the needs of new staff. The Teacher Center continues to contribute to the organization and implementation of this initiative as well as supporting certification requirements for teachers and teaching assistants. We will continue our collaboration on the implementation of the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) program and Mentor Teacher-Intern Program (MTIP).
We will continue to support the implementation of other district mandates, including those identified through Smaller Learning Communities and the Title I School Improvement initiative.
Teacher Center Activities for 2015-16
Governance and Management
The Syracuse Teacher Center Policy Board members and staff will:
– maintaining a website focused on supporting district professional development;
– promoting the use of online communication environments; and
– showcasing teacher work that was informed by STC activities at our open houses and other regional events.
– conducting an annual retreat in collaboration with other central New York teacher centers; and
– participating in national and state professional development organizations.
At the Syracuse Teacher Center professional development:
– site-based professional development to schools to support the development of school growth and individual Professional Growth Plans; and
– professional development for all District School Leadership Teams negotiated in the teacher contract.
– Educational Horizons Awards, which allow individuals to attend educational conferences that meet their individual goals; and
– targeted and site-based professional development opportunities.
– instructional coaches;
– individuals or groups of teachers conducting action research;
– probationary employees;
– school-related professionals;
– National Board certification candidates; and
– individuals opting for alternative evaluation models.
– continued support of staff in the implementation of Common Core Learning Standards, NYS assessments, and student assessments identified under the new teacher evaluation system;
– developing teachers and school-related professionals who are implementing new curricula;
– identify, develop and support teacher leaders to revise and align our present curriculum to the Common Core Standards in addition to aligning benchmark assessments and
– provide professional development in the application of 4-Tier/Response to Intervention Framework with regard to increased rigor and high expectations.
– assistance in the use of new Teachscape cameras;
– lending laptops, LCD projectors and digital cameras to support school technology use;
– classroom support for technology integration;
– sustained support for online resources including Thinkfinity, Intel Teach, e-mail, and online course environments;
– video conferencing to support professional development and classroom instruction; and
– modeling and support in the use of Smart Board technologies.
– Cognitive Coaching, Book Studies, Action Research
The Syracuse Teacher Center Policy Board members and staff will:
– in-service courses (15, 30 or 45 hours in length) which provide an extensive study of a topic, specifically addressing educators’ needs or addressing specific district initiative(s);
– researching and supporting on-line professional development opportunities;
– conferences (1-2 days in length) that bring together educators from the Central New York region to hear educational experts and share strategies on specific topics;
– workshops (1-3 hours in length) designed to meet the needs of a specific group, offered at the center or at individual sites;
– individual consultations and ongoing support as requested by individuals; and
– video conferencing services for educators to promote sharing information on a statewide basis.
– support for Network Team initiatives and tasks identified in the plan; and
– support for Restructuring schools, through actions identified in their plans.
– data analysis forums and seminars to assist individuals and teams of individuals in designing appropriate actions based on identified causes;
– collegial circles and study groups, formed to meet the needs of specific educators;
– group facilitation and instruction in facilitation to assist decision-making teams and/or school planning teams; and
– technology planning for individuals and groups of individuals.
– providing mentoring and induction programs in collaboration with higher education to better prepare and support new educators to work in an urban setting;
– supporting courses and workshops that enhance continuous professional growth; and
– providing opportunities for reflection and inquiry through the Model for Practitioner Evaluation.
– partnering with SCSD Network team;
– providing consultation and support for state mandated plans such as RttT, CDEP, PDP, AIS, and APPR;
– promoting the AFT’s ER&D programs;
– continuing to offer complementary programs with Syracuse SESIS;
– continuing to offer joint programs with other central New York teacher centers; and
– supporting PBIS.