As we, the Monticello Teacher Institute staff, read the factor descriptions and talked to the research team, we knew that some time and thought would be required to make actionable meaning of the initial findings. So, we ordered our favorite local tacos and called a lunch meeting to figure out “what’s next?” For the Monticello Teacher Institute:
- Revising Our Desired Outcomes: How do you make meaning of an evaluation? You look back at your goals! Two of the factors emphasized how the collaborative environment and the impact of having group discussion on tough topics related to life at Monticello-like race, slavery, and religion- impacted them significantly as teachers. We were really excited about this! Therefore, we made sure that a collaborative environment and skill-building in leading discussions on sensitive topics were clearly stated goals as part of our desired outcomes.
- Revising Our Program Itinerary: A theme that emerged as less significant to many of the 2016 participants was the idea of historical thinking. Since inquiry and understanding the practice of history are essential to teaching those skills to students, we’re working on creating a brief historical thinking workshop to serve as a refresher and guidepost for our participants as they create lesson plans during their time onsite. Other itinerary revisions will help us make sure our programming matches the rest of our desired outcomes.
Future Steps: When we start preparing for MTI 2018, we’ll also work on revising out application questions and promotional materials to ensure we are recruiting teachers whose interests best suit our program, and that we clearly communicate the style and purpose of our collaborative, practice-focused professional development program. To Strengthen the Usefulness of the Q-Sort: We weren’t just thinking about our program as we reflected on the initial findings; we were reflecting on the value of this evaluation tool to yours! As fellow practitioners, our desire moving forward is to ensure clrity of language and ease of use so that other historic sites and museums can evaluate their teacher professional development programs through our Q-Sort concourse. We even completed the Q-Sort ourselves to figure out what should be revised for the 2017 pilot.