• School Based Staff Feedback

    At each event, participants were placed in groups of 5 to 10 people and received a handout with a draft abstract of each of the five areas: Early Childhood Education, Gifted Education, Aligned Instructional Systems, New Teacher Induction, Job-Embedded Professional Development. The draft abstract statements were read out loud and each participant had the opportunity to provide their feedback for each of the five areas by answering three questions.     

    • What resonated with you?  
    • What wonderings do you have? 
    • What is missing?  

    The summary included below reflects the feedback of the SOD presentations* September 27th, October 9th, October 16th, and October 30th. The page is organized by topic with the feedback received from the various stakeholders pertaining to each question. The numbers in parenthesis reflect the number of times the same type of feedback was received. The feedback received will support the development of action plans to enhance existing efforts or create new initiatives in each of the five areas listed below. 

    For best viewing results, we recommend screens larger than 720px (iPad, tablets, laptops, desktops). 

Early Childhood Education: What Resonated With You?

To best capture how much a word or phrase resonated with each audience, the words have been enlarged to show a greater number of people resonated with the word or phrase. In addition, for items that resonated but not as much, the words or phrases are in a different color. Hover over the larger words to view additional comments.

Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) is committed to providing students
birth through 8 yearsWhat resonated with you:
"Like the inclusion of birth through 8 years and intentionally starting early."
"Interesting [that] early childhood is birth to age 8."
"Early Childhood (EC) being recognized as a priority."
"Some of the things that are mandated, if we are expanding birth to 8, it would be amazing."
of age with the social-emotional and academic foundational skills that are necessary for success throughout their educational career and life. We recognize that we can't do this work alone and will need committed community partners that can actively support our birth to age 8 efforts and support families within the school and broader Pittsburgh community.

For PPS to succeed, we will:

  • Intentionally design learning experiences to ensure that all children are educated to high level academic and social emotional standards within a
    joyful, warm and nurturing environment.What resonated with you:
    "Loved that Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is mentioned... and it is intentional."
    "'Intentional' about how children learn and the culture they are going to learn in, how they're creating the culture for that to happen."
    "Joyful, warm and nurturing environment." (2)
    "Nurturing environment is important to Early Childhood."
  • Ensure
    social-emotional What resonated with you:
    "Focus on social-emotional skills development." (4)
    "SEL falls under PBIS, RP, Efficacy and Equity."
    "Time throughout the day for teachers to teach social graces."
    skills development includes: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, relationship skills and social awareness.
  • Ensure
    academicWhat resonated with you:
    "All subjects are listed."
    "They included scientific thinking which everyone is afraid of."
    skills include: literacy skills, math skills, scientific thinking, social studies, physical development and the arts.
  • Embrace
    developmentally appropriate practices, play-based learning,What resonated with you:
    "Developmentally appropriate practices…" (3)
    “Focus on development and learning.”
    "Play-based learning…"
    “Play based learning leads to independence, learning how to work together and have positive sportsmanship.”
    “50 minutes of play.”
    “Crucial through age 8.”
    “Feels like it should go to 3rd grade.”
    “This is a huge problem in district, everything drops after kindergarten.”
    “Kids do not get the same help; it is a huge problem.”
    “Not many 1st/2nd graders get play based learning.”
    “Need more materials in K-2.”
    and standards-aligned curricula that encourages each child's natural eagerness to learn.
  • Adopt teaching practices that are
    grounded in researchWhat resonated with you:
    "The district needs to do this."
    "Research shows that all children interacting is helpful for all."
    on how children develop and learn, and what is known about effective early childhood education.
  • Expect positive, responsive teacher-child relationships in which each child's unique style of living and learning is respected and fostered.
  • Train teachers to
    meet children where they are, What resonated with you:
    "Meet Children where they are." (3)
    "Training, trauma and form."
    both as individuals and as part of a group.
  • Help each child meet challenging and achievable learning goals.
  • Partner with parents What resonated with you:
    "Partner with parents." (4)
    in support of their child's health, development and education.
  • Engage
    community organizationsWhat resonated with you:
    "A way to engage and keep families in the district."
    "Community involvement."
    whom are aligned to our beliefs and ensure we have strong partnership to support schools and families.

Early Childhood Education: What Wonderings Do You Have?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Program Structure
"Too many kids in 1st grade… how do you make this happen if you increase the number of children?"
"Will the structures be in place to support developmentally appropriate practices? How much of it will be focused on standardized testing? Children and teacher can flourish when learning is not tied to test.”
"How can the school district impact birth? We can’t mandate what kids get before they come to us."
"When will Early Childhood (EC) be fully adopted into the school system? Still feel not apart of [system]."
"What does the health and wellness program look like? Physical development includes health and wellness."
"How are we going to structure it to ensure we are true to the Birth-8 experience identified as part of the continuum?"
"What if parents opt out of EC, what does it do to the plan?"
"Early learning class sizes: are they suitable for learning?"
"What support is in place for kids with deficits?"
"How are we going to infuse play-based learning into grades Pre-K thru 8?"
"Are you going to actually get the people who are trained in the teaching practices to help the district get what they need (current staff)? Or are you going to keep going to outside contractors? We know the kids, community, and families."
"Why is early childhood separate from other grade levels? i.e., Data, pay scale."
"Are we losing kids because of the age acceptance? In relation to age entry, can we test?"
"What about reading interventionists at every school?"
"What happens if they can’t make it in Kindergarten?"
"How does Cultural Responsiveness fit into this new model?"
"Is this child focused or parent focused? If parent focused, program for adult versus teen parents? Pre-natal care?"
"Social Emotional Skills for teachers and students?"
"When do we start recruitment and how do we recruit?"
"What is in place to support from Birth?"

"Is there a way where you can teach children how to use unstructured time? Age where you learn how to use time. A useful way to spend the time through choice."
"Teach how to choose and be independent."
"Established by a routine and effective play."
"Where are the opportunities for play? i.e., games, house, activities, field trip, etc."
"Where does play that removes the student as the moderator in the learning environment [fit in]?"
"When is SEL happening? What will it look like? It is not in [all] buildings?"
"The current teaching practices are not grounded in learning and are not teaching how children develop and learn."
"How and when will new curriculum be implemented?"
"Is the Kindergarten curriculum developmentally appropriate?"
"Why is the new Pre-K curriculum so rigorous?"

Continuity / Alignment
"How to align different school schedule at Pre-K, K, elementary, etc."
"What does Birth to 8 transition from level to level look like? Birth to Pre-K? Pre-K to K? K through 5?"
"Are schools at different levels communicating and collaborating? Pre-K to K? K thru 5?"
"How District will define Different Levels?" Is Early Childhood defined as Birth to 8 now? When does compulsory education begin?"
"How to ensure continuity? Will levels of support be the same at each?"
"Retention efforts from one level to another?"
"How can K and 1st work more collaboratively together?"
"Have more fluency between the grade levels. Similar to reading intervention. Does not occur with math."

"How do we decide where families go for Birth to 3?"
"How can we make more space available? All teaching [to happen] in Pre-K classrooms? Separate rooms? Another agreement with Early Childhood in each building?"
"Are Class schedules / learning environment negatively affected?"
"Class hours? Same as Pre-K? Full day? Will different times cause learning environment disruption?"
"District wide, are feeder patterns affected?"
"How does this affect the work of Social Workers and Counselors? They operate under different rules."

"How much funding is used to create effective Pre-K programs?"
"Why the huge financial discrepancy across grade levels?"
"What is the plan for funding and what would it look like? Why (are) there restrictions on Pre-K? i.e. Funding, space, etc."

"How do you measure social and emotional?"
"How to assess from Birth to Pre-K? 0 vs. 1 vs. 2?"
"What are goals and how do we measure? Academic, Social Emotional?"
"How will curriculum be aligned with DAP and standards map from common core-align assessments?"

Teacher Pay Disparity
"Why aren’t EC teachers paid the same as other teachers? If they are such an important part of the District's plan, will Pre-K teachers be put on par with every teachers’ pay?”
"What is the plan to ensure an equitable pay for the teachers to stay in those areas?"

Teacher Training
"What will be used to train teachers to assess to determine where they (children) are."
"Train teachers to meet children where they are - what training are they thinking of?"

Joyful, Warm and Nuturing Environment
"How do we ensure all children have access to this?"
"What type of PD can you do to make a person more warm?"

"How are they going to partner with Heinz in support of their child development in the early age and throughout the school age?"

Parent Engagement
"How do we get parents to buy-in, so they support?"

Equity / Access
"Do all students in the District have the opportunity to attend our PreK programs? If not, who goes and who doesn't?"

"How do we define “challenging and achievable goals”?"

Early Childhood Education: What is Missing?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Curriculum / Play Based Learning
"The social and emotional part of learning."
"Play. Being a baby and kid: Children learn more through play. They are engaged and wanting to do it."
"The current teaching practices are not grounded in learning and are not teaching how children develop and learn."
"Kindergarten is not play based."
"Need more early intervention."
"Pre-requisites to learn."
"Critical thinking: how to teach them how to be independent thinkers at that age. Can teach [children] to problem solve."
"Concerned that choices are limited, Wilson (the program) worked and is no longer being used."
"We are only addressing fluency in reading and comprehension: Some students can read 166 words per min but cannot comprehend."

Equity / Diversity
"Diverse children."
"Disabled children."
"Higher income thresholds, so you’re not limiting parents who can afford it or those who are 'below income.'"
"Cultural Sensitivity / Awareness."
"Need more support to help students not familiar with school cultures."
"Need more summer dreamers for Pre-K."
"Access to all because it doesn't seem like that is currently in place."
"Foreign Language Support."
"ESL services for families. Teachers need training for ESL:  Access to translators, Culturally relevant."
"Communications are often with older siblings. How to best work this?"

"Pre-K is not a part of the schools or the District. Separate (from K-12) --it should be included -- creates division."
"We don't value early childhood educators. They are paid less than mainstream but do the exact same thing. If we value them as professionals, we will be able to recruit and hold onto them longer. They are separated from the district."
"Pre-K teachers are seen as baby sitters at our school."
"Pre-K teacher turnover due to low salaries."
"Pre-K teachers seek to teacher high grade levels due to higher salary."
"Need more support in schools."
"We put numbers first instead of kids."

Parent Engagement / Support
"More parent involvement."
"Parent Training. Monthly meetings, summer programs."
"Parents need to be prepared in advance and know what kids will be taught. This should be weekly; materials provided in advance."
"You would need community organizations to support with service for working parents: before and after care or work with other pre-schools or day care centers."
"No identification system: No way to identify students at birth. No way to identify parents in need."
"Parent education program. Pre and post-natal care."
"Parents need to acknowledge different levels that kids come in. Differentiate. Class of Pre-K/K and a class of students more ready."

Continuity / Connections
"The standards-aligned curricula and the differences between elementary curriculum and early childhood for smooth transition."
"Connection to elementary school - We lose a lot between Pre-K and elementary."
"Communications between Pre-K and K teachers including academics, development level, support, data, etc. Communications is key. "
"Pre-K teachers beginning to use eSchoolPLUS."

Teacher Support / Training
"Teacher Training for Birth to 3 work. Do current certifications support from Birth?"
"More staff to make environment enriching; will have to cut classes down to reasonable size, more staff can lead to increased scores."
“Teaching is an art and not just a curriculum.”

Materials / Resources
"Kindergarten class does not have a class set of decodable books or a class set of books."
"Resources that are different for birth to three and four to eight."
“Our internet is not working because we have outdated equipment."
"Providing children before Kindergarten with package of materials to help prepare them."

Program Structure
"Birth to 3: One group? Three groups: 0, 1, 2 and 3? "
"What is a Birth to Pre-K school labeled as?"
"Timeline for Implementation: Where is current state vs. desired state?"
"We need PPS employees who are therapists -- Do not want outside therapists."
"Strategic Partnerships: Hospitals, Community Organizations."

Capacity / Time
"No time or opportunity to nurture and be able to have fun without the Principal coming in to redirect to expectations."
"Where is the time for play?"

"Transportation is an issue for Pre-K."
"Concerns for accessibility."
"Busing for children in early childhood?"

"A deeper investment in Pre-K programs: Community tax base to pay for it."

"Pressures the staff feel from RISE expectations, evaluations, pacing."

Gifted Education: What Resonated With You?

To best capture how much a word or phrase resonated with each audience, the words have been enlarged to show a greater number of people resonated with the word or phrase. In addition, for items that resonated but not as much, the words or phrases are in a different color. Hover over the larger words to view additional comments.

Pittsburgh Public Schools is committed to providing all students the opportunity to demonstrate their gifts and talents through
enriched and accelerated learning.What resonated with you:
"All students... opportunity to demonstrate their gifts and talents..."
"Every classroom will offer opportunities."
"Opportunity to demonstrate gifts and talents."
"Use of the word 'talents' not solely based on academics."
"...through enriched and accelerated learning" (2)
"Usually when you give gifted students enrichment, it's giving them a task."
"Focus Friday at Obama; came out of curriculum... culturally enriching activities."
We will ensure that high-quality
culturally responsiveWhat resonated with you:
"Ensuring the high quality culturally responsive instruction is embedded in our core curriculum." (2)
"High quality, culturally relevant instruction."
"One of the main strategies that can affect our opportunity gap anywhere."
instruction is embedded in our core curriculum. We will equip teachers with the necessary tools to identify all learners' gifts and talents and ensure they can effectively
identify gifted and talented learners.What resonated with you:
"...equip teachers with necessary tools to identify ALL learner's gifts and talents."
"Teaching teachers to service all learners."
"Should be happening right now."
"Identification of Gifted."
"Identifying all children that should or should not be there."
"A lot of PD to recognize gifted students; large effort."
"A danger to track downward."
We expect all teachers to develop high yield instructional strategies to meet the learning needs of students identified as gifted and talented. We will ensure this level of instruction is
present every day, in every school,What resonated with you:
"We will ensure that high-quality instruction is present every day, in every school." (4)
"The term high quality."
"Every day; present every day and everywhere."
"Daily, not weekly enrichment."
"The idea of gifted education once per week. Spend too much time on bus, disrupts regular class."
"The comment of once a week in commentary resonated as it should be occurring every day."
"Someone said once a week, but that is not true because if a student has a GIEP, it should happen every day because of the home school's inclusion in the process."
to offer a wide range of ways a child can develop personally. Students, staff, and parents will
understand the processWhat resonated with you:
"If parents push hard enough, their kid gets to gifted."
"Ensuring parents understand the gifted identification process."
of gifted and talented identification. 

We expect gifted and talented students to:

  • Develop academically, socially, and emotionally.What resonated with you:
    "Gifted center to allow students to develop socially, emotionally."
    "Expecting students to develop academically, socially and emotionally.
  • Recognize the role they play in contributing to their school, community, and global society.

Gifted Education: What Wonderings Do You Have?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Program Structure
"Every day in every school… How often is it happening? How would it occur every day?"
"Does this apply to more than just gifted students? (i.e., student can be gifted as an artist, but not academically)"
"Why are Gifted and Talented (G&T) in isolation?"
"Where there is a separate boat for it?"
"Parents complain about their children being separated."
"A special place. I wonder about a special place as opposed to it being everywhere?"
"How are kids being served by being pulled out of class 20% of the week?"
"20% of scores go to gifted."
"What would this program look like if G&T were in your home school? Instead of having a separate building, each school will have Gifted and Talented within the school to avoid the stigma that may be left behind.”
"How do we shepherd the management of GIEPs? Does IEP trump the GIEP?”
"Under the ideal model, what would it look like to have a co-teaching model? We have an ESL and Spec Ed co-teaching model, could it be possible to have a Gifted Ed co-teaching model? The feeling is the co-teaching would assist in helping to learn better about teaching gifted students.”
"Additional discussion took place regarding the challenges of behavioral and academic issues without support for Gifted students and their self-directed learning, process skills, etc."
"Why aren't there leveling of classes where if there is a group of kids, those should be the student leaders… why classify this group?"
"How will the new expectations be implemented at the high school level?"
"How does the new expectations apply to all students in the district?"
"Why does this abstract only call out student expectations?"
"Why did we get rid of gifted liaisons at the District level?"

"How will this be made accessible to families, and how will children, once identified, understand what gifted means and the expectations?"
"How are we offering the opportunities to every student? All students are talented. We currently have two tracks, Haves and Have Nots. I worry about the kids who could benefit from experiencing a day at the gifted center. A day at the gifted center would benefit them to experience the Gifted center and push them."
"How will students, staff and parents understand the process of gifted and talented?"
"Does every school have the same quality of support?"
"Why isn’t every child considered gifted?"
"Why can’t gifted and talented be applied to all students to push student achievement?"
"Why is there such inconsistency between students and who qualifies?"
"Are certain cultures, races, groups that are being ignored in the identification of gifted?"
"Are we overlooking the ESL population?"
"How are we helping ESL students that are gifted even if they don’t speak English?"
"Will other children lose out?"

Home School Balance / Student Support
"What learning comes back to the home school?
"How can students go to gifted while not meeting the expectations of the home school?"
"How do students makeup work when they are out of the building for gifted educations?"
"Need to know how to find information about gifted students. Why don't teachers know this in Teacher Access Center (TAC)?"
"How many teachers know exactly what is happening at the gifted center?"
"Why don’t we (home school teachers) hear from the gifted teachers on our students progress or what they are working on?"
"Who is going to be that liaison, so counselors and staff understand their responsibilities? There are students being denied… support. They want to be involved in things where they can apply what they know. If… saying in a regular classroom the gifted students will be addressed, there is going to need to be something in those schools that is different for them."
"What supports will be in place for kids who are gifted but do not have the foundational skills to (be) independent?"
"How do we teach all staff to view enrichment as not extra work for them?"

Teacher Training / Support
"How to get support to teacher when they don't have any students that go to gifted center? No Equity."
"What are the "necessary tools" and resources that will be provided to teachers to identify the talented learners?"
"What training are the teachers going to have?"
"What training will we provide teachers to achieve the higher-level instruction?"

Parent Engagement
"Do parents understand how to access [the G&T program]?"
"How are parents informed about the G&T Program and what is the process?"
"How will parents be supported in understanding what gifted means?"

Curriculum / Differentiated Instruction
"How to adapt curriculum to variety of learning levels?"
"Curriculum is the middle ground."
"We need to create an honors English vs more traditional."
"Must best serve kids."
"How can enriched accelerated happen in a middle school classroom when one is reading college level, and another is behind? Disservice to lower performing and higher performing students."

Teacher Creativity
"If I am supposed to develop high yield instructional strategies, how do I do that for talented learners, not just gifted?"
"How much freedom will the classroom teacher will be given to meet the needs of gifted students?"

"What is the process of recognizing / identifying students for gifted education?" (5)
"How are students identified/recognized? Is it only identified at 2nd grade? 8th grade? GEIP? IEP? Teachers select, or parents request, or both? IQ, Academic performance, etc."
"When and how often is the testing? Do Parents, Students and Teachers know this?"
"How is the identification process communicated to parents?"
"Who’s responsible for identifying gifted students?"
"Who are the screeners?"
"What training… will teachers get to identify gifted and talented?"
"Are we giving a training to teachers at higher grades to identify gifted/ talented students?"
"Prepare regular education teacher to be able to identify gifted students?"
"How do we equip teachers to identify gifted students?"
"What are the tools we are providing teachers?" (2)

"Is the evaluation system credible?"
"Do we track the time G&T students spend in G&T courses?"

Purpose / Value
"What is the real value?"
"What does the G&T program add to a child’s Academic potential when they are failing at home school, or competing to attend gifted center?"

"What defines gifts and talents?"
"What are high yield strategies?"
"What does “High Quality” mean?"

Gifted Education: What is Missing?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Diversity / Equity
"The "greenway" students are provided separate treatment unfair to other students."
"Gifted students are entitled to direct instruction."
"All schools having the correct systems to effectively meet the students."
"All schools are not represented at the gifted center." (2)
"ID is often based on zip codes."
“Can see the differences in the schools by the children in the gifted center. Do not see the rigor.” (Gifted Teacher)
"The plan to increase marginalized students in the G&T program (i.e., Minority, females). This needs to address how we are reaching out to races and cultures, etc. Will there be leveling to identify kids who are underrepresented minorities?"
"Population of gifted should be reflective of school population… if not, shut it down."
"Some are not tested (due) to how they are perceived."
"No District wide belief that all students have gifts and talents."
"Current system does not provide opportunity for all."
"No Mention of Special Education."

Identification of Gifted
"Lacks a clear understanding of what Gifted is. Need to have a better understanding of what a gifted learner looks like at different levels of development." (3)
“I think teachers and administrators don’t understand what gifted means. People… make the assumption that if you are gifted you can do everything. Gifted is about a brain that functions (in a different way).”
“People think if you are gifted you are self-regulated. That is not fair to gifted students.”
“Gifted and CAS are two different things. CAS students are not prepared for rigorous curriculum.”
“Need to change the word; Special ed students are different, but gifted as well.”
"Indicators of gifted and talented."
"IQ (Intelligence Quotient) vs. EQ (Emotional Quotient): Going away from IQ as a measure for intelligence. EQ determines as a successor in life."
"Identifying truly gifted."
"No non-traditional manner of identifying students."
"No details on training and tools teachers will get to help identify G&T."

Gifted / Home School Balance
"No defined connection to home school."
"No support from the center to home school."
"No plan on balancing G&T with regular classes."
"No Alignment with Home school work."
"IEP writer access to GEIPs: Teachers never see the GIEP. GIEP’s are not as robust for gifted students."
"Bringing the practices that the gifted center uses back to the regular schools. Don’t get feedback from the gifted center about how the kids are doing, a project, etc. that a home school teacher could build on."
"Building enrichment to the average learning. Standard curriculum is built to the average."
"No reports based on standards from gifted center."
"No Information on Alignment with standards."

Program Structure
"Include home school and gifted center."
“Bring gifted into home schools.”
"Levels of classes for gifted."
"Space and opportunity for failure and bouncing back. Using it as feedback. Using failure as success."
"Professional learning opportunities."
"Servicing gifted learners in and out of the classroom."
"Staff expectations."

Teacher Support
"No Plan for teachers to “develop” strategies."
"No Plan for teachers at home school to support gifted students: Training, Certification."
"No Option for G&T teachers to have an assigned school that they can support throughout the year."
"Don’t have training/PD on enrichment."

Promotion / Communications
"Clear communication of the gifted process with all teachers and parents."
"More education for parents."
"How are we increasing the number of students in gifted education?"
"Do people know you can be dual labeled: IEP/GEIP?"

Student Assessment
"An unbiased way to assess students."

Aligned Instructional System: What Resonated With You?

To best capture how much a word or phrase resonated with each audience, the words have been enlarged to show a greater number of people resonated with the word or phrase. In addition, for items that resonated but not as much, the words or phrases are in a different color. Hover over the larger words to view additional comments.

Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) is committed to ensuring that all students entering and exiting any PPS school will leave with the
same quality education regardless of zip code. What resonated with you:
"All students."
"Same quality of education regardless of zip code." (10)
"There are pockets, it is systemic."
"Regardless of [zip code] appears idealistic."
Equitable learningWhat resonated with you:
"Equitable learning" (3)
"For all students."
for all students will occur and serve as the foundation for classroom instruction, occur with the implementation of
culturally responsive curriculum, What resonated with you:
"Culturally responsive curriculum" (4)
"Training teachers on what that looks like - for teaching a specific group of students"
instructional frameworks, and assessments that articulate a sequence of learning aligned to grade-level expectations developed by district staff and teachers. 

PPS will provide
curricular resources and supportWhat resonated with you:
"Provide curricular resources." (2)
"East side seems more enriched than the west."
"Support to foster a mindset of continuous learning and high expectations."
"Staff are reminded."
"It is a mind shift; it is very difficult for people to change."
for all staff to foster a mindset of continuous learning and
high expectations.What resonated with you:
"Learning experiences that reflect high expectations."
We will ensure a variety of ongoing assessments to inform daily instructional decisions that appropriately stretch students beyond their current level of performance. Students in PreK-12 will engage in learning experiences that reflect high expectations, and enable them to transfer knowledge and skills to new situations, both locally and
globally What resonated with you:
"We want to build global citizens."
. Students will learn how to apply
academic gritWhat resonated with you:
"Students will learn how to apply academic grit..."
"Academic grit." (4)
to transcend internal and external obstacles in order to reach their highest potential. Clear gateways will be established to ensure students are aware of their academic options and can embody the academic and socio-emotional intelligence to become college, career and life-ready.

Aligned Instructional System: What Wonderings Do You Have?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Program Structure
"What about the new portfolio requirements for writing? With the new requirements, it feels like we are being micromanaged. The length of text and number of pieces is too much. Can’t do it in 2 days.”
"Why is it always college and career ready? There should be opportunities to be career ready without college."
"What would quality education regardless of zip code look like? i.e., specifics, implementation."
"How do you account for the diversity from school to school?"
"Culture of expectations varies across schools."
"If the school is producing, will they have some autonomy?"
"Neighborhood school vs. Magnet school. Can every school be a Magnet school? Some parents apply to magnet to get their kids out of their current school. District allows parents to apply to magnet for student interests."
""What would clear gateways established look like and be?"
"Globally? Where is the opportunity to expose our students to "global opportunities"?"

Curriculum/ Capacity
"Why are curriculums different?"
"If we have a standard curriculum across the District, so that no matter where kids go, how is it possible that kids are not getting an equitable education? We know the curriculum is the same. Their assignments are different. So, it isn’t true the curriculum is…the same. Same quality education needs to be rephrased. Maybe foundational education."
"Is 'ReadyGEN' PA common core aligned?"
"Are we really having faith in the curriculum? Many teachers don't teach according to the curriculum."
"How much flexibility is allowed with the pacing guide?"
"Adding something but please take something away so the appropriate focus can be dedicated."

Equity / Opportunity
"What does quality education regardless of zip code look like?"
"How do we provide same academic experience regardless of zip code? How would you tackle that?"
"How do we make it equitable?"
"What additional measures are put in place to support students from different zip codes? Would some schools be held back to make it fair?"
"How will you give an opportunity to all students? It takes differentiation."
"Is there an Equity Agenda?"
"How does “regardless of zip code” relate to the G&T section?"
"How will the District identify inequities and how will we address them?"
"What does this look like for students whose first language is not English or has a disability?"

"How to we measure academic grit?"
"Which tool will we use to measure that a student received a quality education?"
"What are the additional assessments? Students are already taking several assessments."
"Program is adopted, but we created out own assessment?"

Cultural Awareness / Competence
"Is having one aligned system culturally responsive?"
"How are they going to share information regarding the external obstacles and support them? Depends on the zip code... Perception and perspective of neighborhoods."
"How is the new math program culturally responsive?"

Bias / Behavior / Performance
"How are they going to change a way a teacher thinks in the amount of time it needs to occur for it to be effective in a classroom? Self-fulfilling prophecies… When students walk into a classroom."
"How is this addressed from grade level to grade level?"

Resource Allocation
"Will the schools that need more resources get them?"
"Who decides how schools will be funded? No transparency of funding from building to building."
"Will additional resources be provided for struggling schools?"

Define / Terminology
"How do we define “academic grit”?"
"How do we define “we”?"
"How do we define “college, career and life ready”?"
"What are “clear gateways”?" (2)
"What does [clear gateways] mean? Are they related to Magnet/G&T?"

"How are they going to get students to apply academic grit?"
"How do we achieve academic grit and high expectations?"
"How do we change the policies (at school and District level) that contradict academic grit and high expectations?"

Differentiated Instruction
"(How to address?) Students have different experiences based on where they attend."
"(How to address?) Kids are coming into the gifted center with different skills at the same grade level."

Parent Engagement
"How can we allow parents to be part of the process to help guide students into the pathways or gateways?"

"How soon will this start?"
"How long will the program take?"

Student Input
"Will students have input in classes they want?"

Teacher Input
"What role does teacher’s play in developing curriculum, strategies and assessments?"

Aligned Instructional System: What is Missing?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Equity / Diversity
"Equitable distribution of resources."
"There is no equity in materials and resources." (2)
"Materials are not readiliy available. Students have to beg for updated books."
"Laptops are sometimes provided, but they are old."
"Obama has laptop cart that they share between teachers."
"Neighborhood schools… Visible inequity even on the outside of the school."
"Accelerated processes to identify inequities… and accelerate the process of bringing them up to speed."
"The district confuses equity with equality."
"An acknowledgment that equal is not equitable and some schools in some zip codes need more support than others."

Cultural Awareness / Responsiveness
"Culturally Responsive curriculum is a misnomer."
"Teachers having knowledge of the external obstacles the students are facing."
"Student asked, "why don't any of the books have anyone that looks like me?""

"Disparity in technology across the District."
"iLit and iRead can’t do it in every classroom."
"No computer labs."

Program Structure
"Supporting details for instructional frameworks."
"Aligning from grade level and standard to standard, need a method."
"Defined strategies."
"Some instruction regarding applying academic grit."
"Missing some growth mindset specifics; time to talk about it (integration, specific curriculum, etc.) to help to ensure that [it happens]."
"A variety of ongoing assessments to push them beyond."
"No mention of Pedagogy."

Alignment / Assessment
"No program consistency from Pre-K to K, and grade 5 to 6."
"No Aligned Instructional report card."
"No Standards based report card."
"Report cards can be standardized to encourage same quality."
"No addressing of trauma suffered by students."
"Variety of assessments for different purposes is needed."
"No Instructional systems that address basic needs."

School Culture / Differentiation
"Climate and culture are being ignored in places where the instructional system is deficient."
"Consistency from building to building."
"Different schools have different practices. Zip code issue."
"Schools are so diverse and different, it's almost impossible to have a common curriculum. Class offerings are different at every school."
"As an outsider to Pittsburgh, you hear about pockets of schools who are good and other schools are less resourced. The image needs to change."

Teacher Engagement
"Personality and enthusiasm in the classroom."
“I do not view this as a job, corporation or business; we are dealing with students’ lives, they are our babies.“
"Effective strategies for teacher mood."
"Teacher expertise in designing the [instructions]."

Training / PD Option
"We need more PD on differentiation to meet the needs of all individuals in the room with their multiple levels of needs."
"We need more on curriculum as well to meet those needs."
"Classroom Management Training."

"Our students and teachers have no time to sit together to work on pieces in depth. "
"Feels like we are racing through."
"Not following the writing process because we do not have time."

Communication / Continuity
"Knowledge of what’s happening in lower grades."
"We always blame other schools."
"If we are aligning everything, we need to front load the younger years."

Support Services
"Support services in schools including mental health services."

College / Career Readiness
"Absence of vocational training for our students."
"What is being provided to be financially college ready?"

Parent Engagement
"Add "and parents" to section that discusses "gateways to knowing grades""

School Assessment
"Close underperforming schools."

"Trained and consistent staff."

New Teacher Induction: What Resonated With You?

To best capture how much a word or phrase resonated with each audience, the words have been enlarged to show a greater number of people resonated with the word or phrase. In addition, for items that resonated but not as much, the words or phrases are in a different color. Hover over the larger words to view additional comments.

Pittsburgh Public Schools is committed to ensuring all incoming teachers
receive effective mentoringWhat resonated with you:
"Effective mentoring, guidance and support" (2)
"Teachers receiving mentoring."
"We lose young teachers because they do not have mentors."
"Incoming teachers receiving effective mentoring."
"Effective mentoring and quality support."
, guidance, and support through a
comprehensive New Teacher Induction (NTI) What resonated with you:
"The word comprehensive."
"We need this."
process. NTI will establish a foundation for new teachers to benefit from and contribute to a culture of
continuous improvement.What resonated with you:
"Suggestion to establish foundation for new teachers to benefit from and contribute to a culture of continuous improvement."
"Developing a culture of continuous improvement."
"Committed to ongoing growth."
NTI will consist of both individualized and collaborative learning experiences for teachers, preparing them to best meet the diverse academic and social-emotional needs of their students. The NTI process will support the District in developing and
retaining What resonated with you:
"Focus on teacher retention."
teachers who are committed to ongoing growth, research, and development to ensure that every student in every school experiences high quality instruction every day.

We expect new teachers to:
  • BelieveWhat resonated with you:
    "New teachers to believe that students from every race and ability can excel."
    "Having a high expectation and belief that every kid can succeed regardless of student criteria."
    "One of the most difficult things seen and unseen."
    "If the teacher doesn't believe in self, won't believe in kids."
    that students of every race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, and ability can excel and make continuous academic progress.
  • Understand and implement research-based and culturally-responsive instructional practices so that all students can learn. 
  • Have a dedicated, well-prepared, and qualified
    mentor.What resonated with you:
    "Dedicated, well prepared, and qualified mentor."
    "Dedicated mentor."
  • Have a shared responsibility in their professional learning.
  • Experiences professional learning that models effective learning experiences for students.
  • Engage in data-driven and data-informed professional learning experiences.
  • Have
    site-based and district-based supportsWhat resonated with you:
    "Site-based and district-based support that complement each other."
    "Well-rounded support."
    "Systemic Support."
    "Mentors, supports and resources: three important words for the new teacher."
    that complement one another.
  • Receive the resources to be successful in their roles.
  • Become experienced and effective teachers in Pittsburgh Public Schools.

New Teacher Induction: What Wonderings Do You Have?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Program Structure
"Who and how are we picking the people that are running the NTI courses?"
"How are we vetting NTI instructors?"
"Needs to be differentiation with new teachers: New teachers out of school/Teachers who taught for 20 years take in PPS."
"How will new teachers interact with veteran teachers and students that promote CR pedagogy?"
"Leverage skills of new teachers… veterans might not be up on pedagogy."
“Interns come in with an attitude to know everything”  Theory vs. practice."
“Teacher induction was useless.”
"What about vet teacher induction? "
"Possibly match folks up with complimentary skills."
"Will veteran teachers have the same learning opportunities as new teachers?"
"Is coaching differentiated for where the teacher’s home school is?"
"How could we do a more school-based teacher induction program?"

"Would regional teacher induction be more beneficial? District wide is more intimidating."
"What is the home school doing? How do you connect it with the school?"
"Offering sessions helped, but the travel is a pain."

"If you have tenure in another district, is it mandatory to attend?"
"How does previous experience affect PA requirement?"
"If you come in late in the year, can a meeting be set up to help teachers learn about the school they are in?"
"Does the district conduct exit interviews?"

"Why isn't there a connection between the PFT and NTI?"
"Advertised that union prof can be part of this… didn't happen… why?"

"How can we ensure effective mentoring?"
"What will feedback system look like?"

Teacher Training / Support
"Does it really support the new teacher?"
"Will they have behavior, inclusion, PBIS? Culturally responsive piece? Classroom management?"
"What do you do if you are interested in being mentored?"
"How does this support (mentoring) continue once they are in their job?" Once a teacher comes in, there is no pronounced system of support. "
"How their supports go beyond their first year?"
"So much happens beyond the first year. Induction needs to be longer."
"Wondering how those supports can include a co-teaching model?"
"How do we help teachers that are new to a subject or grade level? 4th grade and beyond, brand new teachers struggle with power structure.”
"What about teachers who are not new to teaching, but are new to the building, how are we supporting?"
“Site-based and district-based support that complement one another." What does that support look like? How do they complement each other?"
"How does the District plan to retain teachers?"

Teacher Recruitment
"How and what are we doing to recruit teachers?"
"Will the hiring timeline be moved up in order to engage and hire quality teachers?"
"Are we looking at the whole teacher (i.e., benefits, support services, retirement, etc.)?"
"Do teachers get support to become researchers?"
"Do teachers get training on Classroom management?"

"Where do the dedicated mentors come from?"
"How are the mentors chosen (for each teacher)?" (4)
"Who picks the mentors?"
"Who are the mentors? Should be someone the principal identifies."
"What support for the mentors will be available?"
"What support resources do mentors receive?"
"Can we get extra pay for mentors?"
"Can mentors get stipends?"
"Will there be compensated mentors at teacher’s home school?"


"Time?  When is there time to provide mentorship and fulfill all other duties?"
"Is this embedded?"
"If you are a mentor, do you have time to go in with mentee throughout the course of the school day?"
"Mandatory training is a LOT at one time. We have so much other stuff to do."

Define / Terminology
"What does being a mentor mean?" "What is a qualified mentor?"
"How do we define “effective mentoring”?"

New Teacher Induction: What is Missing?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Teacher Recruitment/Support
"Diversity training is not enough; Teachers should not enter classroom until they have had training."
"No training on Urban Experience."
"Need positive help. A lot of negativity with everything that is going on regarding new leadership amongst seasoned district teachers."
"Teachers do help one another, but it's not defined."
"Teacher's take initiative, but there is not requirement District wide. "
"Make it a part of the culture."
"Using veteran teachers in the school as resources."
"Written document would have to be school based… school culture."
"No planning/logistics to reduce teacher out of school time."
"Protocol and training for teachers and mentors and allotted time to collaborate."
"No support for Special Education."
"No Curriculum support in planning lessons."
"Human resources not helpful in answering questions."
"A way to retain new staff beyond challenges."

Formal Mentorship
“The well qualified mentor is missing and the formal process to make it work does not exist.”
"Doesn't happen at some schools; school might have clicks."
"Mentors are not at every school and there are no clear parameters, Mentoring should be for a certain period of time… not just a training."
“Spending a year with a veteran teacher then release to their own classroom.”
"PITT had a MAT program where interns spend the whole year in PPS and go to class at night."

Program Structure
"Defined system, schedule and mode of feedback."
"Differentiation amongst teachers."
"Opportunity for new teachers to provide new ideas and feedback."

Mentor Selection Process Details
"No mention of where “highly qualified, well prepared and dedicated” mentors are coming from: Requirements, Expectations?"

Connection to Home School
"No connection between induction program and home school."
"There should be a mentor on staff who knows the home school."

"No partnerships/ Universities to help with teacher preparation."

Job Embedded PD: What Resonated With You?

To best capture how much a word or phrase resonated with each audience, the words have been enlarged to show a greater number of people resonated with the word or phrase. In addition, for items that resonated but not as much, the words or phrases are in a different color. Hover over the larger words to view additional comments.

In Pittsburgh Public Schools, job-embedded professional development will be an
individual and collaborativeWhat resonated with you:
"Individual and collaborative continuous learning process."
"It can be individualized, there is a choice in what I want and need instead of being told."
"...professional development...during the work day..."
continuous learning process of inquiry, reflection, and action that occurs during the work day with the goal of staff improving student outcomes. Job-embedded professional development will equip staff with data analysis, academic content, teaching and learning theory, social/emotional development, research and evidenced based teaching, learning theory, and cultural competency skills to ensure students are college, career and life ready.

We expect teachers to:

  • Understand that professional learning is a professional responsibility.
  • Feel empowered to improve their professional practice.
  • Be engaged in job-embedded professional learning
    daily.What resonated with you:
    "Be engaged in job-embedded professional learning daily." (6)
  • Engage in
    data informedWhat resonated with you:
    "Skewed outcome without data."
    "Data informed decision making."
    decision making.
  • Have a
    deep knowledgeWhat resonated with you:
    "Having a deep knowledge of the content" (2)
    "Acknowledgement that teachers need to have the knowledge of the content that we teach and continuing with that."
    "Stress on academic content."
    of the content they teach and how to teach that content to a range of students.
  • Work collaboratively to develop and implement lessons that are responsive to the educational
    needs of their students.What resonated with you:
    "Working together collaboratively to develop and implement lessons." (2)
    "...responsive to education needs..."
    "Special Ed... curriculum is not conducive to how kids learn."
  • Contribute to the improvement of the practice of all members of the school community.
  • Be researchers.
  • Experience high-quality coaching and mentoring.
  • Build their leadership capacity through the coaching and mentoring of other teachers.

Job Embedded PD: What Wonderings Do You Have?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Program Structure
"Is there a master plan design for PD?"
"…DAILY. How do you do that system wide? ”
"How does this happen daily without interrupting teaching responsibilities?"
"How does this happen during the day with a lack of substitutes?"
"What and How will this PD be delivered?"
"How will daily PD be differentiated?"
"Does daily PD affect the schedule or pay of teachers?"
"How does this look in elementary and middle school?"
"Will the elementary teacher schedule be changed like High School?"
"How will schools receive support for daily PD?"
"How to teach to a range of students… this is very complicated. What the modeling model will look like? Best practices amongst schools? Smaller classrooms?"
"How we (teachers) can get that deep knowledge of content with so many contents teaching (elementary) to a wide range of abilities?"
"Does the continuing knowledge include the 1/2 day?"
"Why can't (program) be more of a problem solving?"
"Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) feel compliant. Too structured… do not allow us to be independently run."
"PLCs in elementary but principals are running them."
"Why is it focused on teachers and not students? What about looking at student work?"
"School-based PD more effective. So many different communication options instead of taking teachers away from the classroom. Why can’t there be a centralized location for training?"
"Why doesn’t the district partner with Universities for tuition assistance?"

"Is there training for Math, Reading, IEP?"
"Are there in house certifications to demonstrate mastery technique?"
"How do you get teachers to realize professional learning is a professional responsibility?"

"Time? How will we do this with all the new stuff from the District?"
"Where is the extra time going to come from to act upon data-based instruction?"
"How will teachers have the time to be researchers?"
"PD after hours?"

District / School Relations
"What do they (Central Office) know about teaching?"
"Contract negotiation created gap in relationship."
“When are you going to actually listen to what we are telling you?”

Trainer Selection
"Where do the people doing PD come from?"
"Experience of trainers? The district brings people in for new curriculum who appear to be trained shortly prior."

Teacher Input
"Summer leadership training was exceptional… lots of choice… how can we include more teach choice?"
"PD has improved greatly in the last year."

"How will teacher turnover be eliminated?"
"How will admin turnover be eliminated?"

"Are the principals being given resources to use for valuable in-building PD?"

"How will the job embedded PD be evaluated for success/impact?"

"What do we mean by learning daily?"
"What does it mean to be a researcher as a teacher?"
"What does it mean to be personally responsible?"


Job Embedded PD: What is Missing?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Capacity / Time
"Realistic expectations and time requirements."
"The limited amount of time that we have for professional development."
"Timing of PD."
"Time to perform it in a productive way during the school day."
"Development may lead to time away from the class room and students." (2)
"No time to re-teach. Mandated PDs come up and throw things off."
"Time, space, and continuum to allow teachers to visit other teachers within their school and other buildings."
"Time for teachers to do research and share their findings."
"One PLC period is not enough."
"Suggestion for time to be more deliberate."
"Recognition of the amount of stress on the Professional Learning Community due to expectations that exceed what is doable."
"Time to breathe."
"Information overload."
“I feel the collaborative time with the team is missing.”
"1/2 day would be great to delve in."
“A lot of 1/2 day PD sessions, I think when they are designed collaboratively and need chunks of time with principal facilitation for grade level teams as well for development and implementation of lessons.” Someone agreed. “Especially with reading and math curriculum"
"Lack of Substitutes."

Training / PD Option
"Choices in your professional development. Referenced the Leadership week but it’s not on a regular basis."
"Teachers don't get to decide the content of PLC meeting."
"Opportunity for staff to have a voice and choice in the PDs they receive."
"Staff identifying which would be beneficial to schools."
"Relevant PD."
"Content driven PD."
"Development is unrelated to Strategic Plan."
"Development is not relevant/useful." (2)
“We need more PD around the growth mindset and how to relay those skills to students; SEL piece and how to use it in the classroom.”
"At the Leadership Conference teachers were able to select PD they deemed important."
"Want trainings that are beneficial to me."

Program Structure
"Modeling of the curriculum to position teachers as students. If you want us to do something well, you have to make sure our PD is done well.”
"All of the materials needed (to be) delivered well in advance."
"Collaboration with other teachers who teach the same content but different schools."
"Each school needs an LES."
"No Defined criteria to be a mentor/coach."
"No mention of Principals or Leadership or their expectations."
"No mention of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy."

Central Office / Admin
"Participation in PD."
“First time anyone from Central Office participated in PD.”
"Many feel disconnected from Central Office."
"Seen as suits."
"Knowing that Central Office people taught in schools before gives credibility."

Teacher / Staff Support
"Job-embedded staff wellness and self-care."
"We are missing math coaches - one (1) per building."
"Lack of highly quailed substitutes to support when teachers are at PD."

Teacher Assessment
"Revised Teacher Evaluation system and Student Learning Objectives (SLO)."
"Suggestion to rate teachers on professionalism or professional practice."

Effective Technology
"An hour training on how to use the online system."

"No Consistent Professional Development."