If it’s not written down, it didn’t happen.

At HCDE in Houston on 2-19-2020

Paperwork is the bane of the educator’s existence. It is also one of the larger parts of that existence. And it isn’t going away, even if most of it’s not done with actual pen and paper but with a touch screen or a keyboard. Like paperwork, teacher appraisals are a big part of an administrator’s life, and the thorough documentation that is the real meat of appraisals can be quite the hassle during an already demanding workday. One of our goals at ED311 is to help make this work both easier and more effective.

Good documentation is essential to supporting teachers and educating students. It is how administrators ensure that they are delivering on their promise of providing kids with the best education possible—by putting the best teacher possible in the classroom. Whether documentation is a vehicle for supporting and growing a promising novice teacher or the substantiation necessary to pursue renewal or termination, it is non-negotiable.

ED311 has proudly published The Texas Documentation Handbook (now in its 6th edition) for nearly thirty years. It still flies off our shelves. It is a staple in principals’ offices across the state. And now we’re bringing you a workshop to show you how to get the most out of both the handbook and the process of documenting teachers. We want to help you be best buddies with documentation instead of frenemies.

We are excited to partner with the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) to bring you workshops that can help transform the documentation process from the bane of an already over-scheduled workday in the life of a stretched-too-thin administrator into a truly valuable and useful tool that can make your job easier and legitimately support teachers and students.

On February 19th, Karen Dooley and Jennifer Barton of TASB presented the first Effective Documentation of Teachers Workshop in Houston. Karen and Jennifer carefully planned an experience in which attendees could walk away at the end of the day with information and tools to be used immediately. Wendy of Friendswood ISD said of the workshop, “This was great! I really appreciate the information and tools that we were given. I can go back to campus and implement them today!”

There is clearly a need for this kind of training. Karen was surprised at the number of individuals in the audience who had never been to a formal training on documentation, saying, “I think only two [people] had actually ever participated in one, with a few more attending conference sessions in the past.” For such an important task, it is certainly necessary to equip our administrators with the tools and expertise needed to make the best possible use of the teacher documentation process. The reframing of mindsets is part of this work: it’s important to look at documentation not as a chore that must be done but as a tool that has many benefits.

Also evident at the workshop in Houston was the enthusiasm. Jennifer observed that “the participants were dedicated, and they brought good experiences to their colleagues during group discussions.” Specific questions from individuals about their personal experiences led to learning for everyone. The individual how-do-I questions led to answers and insights for the whole room.

Trainings about documentation and the spaces in which to share experiences and best practices with each other are golden opportunities. We are all working towards the same outcome: providing the best possible avenue for student learning. Helping each other along that path is part of the mission. And our Documentation Workshops are here to help administrators as they help their teachers.

We will be bringing more of these workshops to you soon! Join us in New Braunfels on June 25, 2020, for the next Effective Documentation of Teachers Workshop!


A bit more about the workshop:

An effective documentation process is crucial for improving employee performance and making informed personnel decisions. This interactive workshop will guide participants through the ED311 Texas Documentation Handbook: Appraisal, Nonrenewal, Termination. The training will focus on developing documentation to support appraisal, nonrenewal, and termination decisions.

  • Legal framework for decisions
  • Principles of effective documentation
  • Addressing marginally effective performance
  • Documenting instruction
  • Professional communication
  • Writing and monitoring intervention plans

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