“Delaware, because it’s so small, you have a really big impact… The close knit community… the relationships you can build with elected officials and really powerful advocates within the state really helps to move work forward much more quickly.”—Melissa Browne, Life Long Learning Director, Latin American Community Center
Opportunity to Make a Difference
Delaware educators influence student achievement at both the classroom-level as well as at the highest levels of K-12 leadership. In Delaware, individual educators also have direct access to leading policy makers, thought-leaders, and movers and shakers in a way that simply is not possible in larger states. Our small size, accessible leadership, and trend-setting policy makers facilitate communities of professionals in education that are powerhouses for positive change.
Opportunity for Growth & Advancement
Delaware is committed to providing ongoing professional learning and career ladder opportunities to facilitate educator growth and student learning. Delaware’s three-year teacher induction program, for example, affords teacher leadership stipends for mentor teachers. Also, the Delaware Education Support System (DESS) provides ongoing professional learning for Delaware educators. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are another example of Delaware’s commitment to continued professional learning. PLCs were established throughout Delaware schools in an effort to increase opportunities for collaboration between educators and to improve data driven decision-making in schools and classrooms.
Opportunity for Recognition & Rewards
Delaware challenges and incentivizes highly-effective teachers to work with Delaware’s neediest students through the Delaware Talent Cooperative. The Talent Co-op offers bonuses of up to $15,000 over two years to educators who can make progress toward eliminating Delaware’s achievement gap. Meanwhile, iEducate Delaware, an initiative of the Rodel Foundation, recognizes Delawareans for their innovative work to help students. Delaware Educators are also gaining recognition on a national level.
Mentorship and Induction Program
According to the New Teacher Center, Delaware is one of only three states to require and fund multi-year new teacher induction. It also is one of only five states to require three years of induction support. Delaware’s induction program matches each new teacher or specialist with a mentor to familiarize them with the school and state resources and procedures. Mentors must spend a minimum of 30 hours with first-year educators.
New school administrators are also required to participate in an induction program, including at least 30 hours of documented mentoring support. To learn more about educator induction in Delaware, download this brief from the New Teacher Center (PDF).
A Culture of Support
Delaware has made it a priority to incorporate educator feedback into its decision-making processes. This commitment can be seen through the evaluation process applied to Delaware’s Performance Appraisal System (DPAS II; Delaware’s Educator Evaluation)—both before and after it incorporated student achievement data. Download the 2012 DPAS II evaluation report.
In 2010, Delaware moved to statewide “professional learning communities” (PLCs). This initiative provided teachers with 90 minutes of planning time each week in order to collaborate with colleagues and data coaches. Feedback from educators indicates PLCs have been a major factor in facilitating student success.
This commitment to create a supportive K-12 culture is demonstrated more recently through Delaware’s Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) survey. In January and February of 2013, Delaware, through the New Teacher Center’s “Teaching Conditions Initiative” asked educators for their perspectives concerning the topics of, Community Engagement and Support, Professional Learning, Facilities and Resources, Instructional Practices and Support, and New Teacher Support in order to inform ongoing improvement efforts.