Skillful Teaching & Leading Frequently Asked Questions

The Skillful Teaching & Leading Team: Vision and Mission

Mission: Our mission is to develop all staff and improve the effectiveness of the organization to ensure high achievement for every student.

Vision: Dedicated to high achievement through skillful teaching and leading.

Questions and Answers

What is the history of the Skillful Teaching & Leading Team?

The Skillful Teaching and Leading Team was created in response to Our Call to Action: Pursuit of Excellence, the MCPS strategic plan, in order to support the development and implementation of the MCPS Professional Growth System for professional staff.

In the late 1990’s, Research for Better Teaching (RBT), an educational consulting firm, was brought in to assist MCPS in the revision of the teacher evaluation system. From that collaboration, a standards-based professional growth system for teachers and administrators has evolved. In order to support the provision of rich feedback to teachers based on sound educational theory and practice, administrators are required to take two courses, Observing and Analyzing Teaching (OAT) 1 and 2. MCPS In-District Trainers (IDTs) have been trained and certified by RBT to teach OAT 1 and OAT 2.

To ensure a common understanding of concepts, strategies, and vocabulary, three additional courses, based on the same educational knowledge base as the OAT courses, have been developed for teachers and other MCPS staff. Studying Skillful Teaching 1 (SST 1), Studying Skillful Teaching 2 (SST 2) and Studying Skillful Teaching for Paraeducators (Para-SST) are also taught by MCPS IDTs, who have been trained and certified by RBT. These courses are highly recommended for MCPS staff because they promote a common language about skillful teaching and support the expansion of teaching repertoires in order to better meet the needs of the diverse learners in MCPS (Note:  SST 2 and Para-SST are not being offered for the summer/fall 2017 semester).

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What services are offered by The Skillful Teaching & Leading Team?

In addition to the delivery of the five courses, MCPS In-District Trainers (IDTs) provide support to current and past participants in the implementation and refinement of course concepts and strategies. Team members also provide support and training to novice administrators, school leadership teams, grade-level teams, and departments.

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What kind of credit can I earn for Skillful Teaching and Leading courses?

See the individual course pages for credit and fee information:

Credit Towards Renewing Advanced Professional Certificates (APC) from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE): If you already have an advanced professional certificate (APC) from the Maryland Department of Education (MSDE) you can use the Skillful Teaching and Leading courses as three (3) credits toward renewal of your MSDE certification. Check your certificate to determine if you have an APC, or check with your school. Each spring the school receives a list of staff members’ certification. Credit towards salary advancement does not apply when taking a class only as credit towards certificate renewal.

Additional Credit Information: Credit information on specific sections of each course can be found on the Professional Development Online (PDO) system. In addition, instructors will distribute credit information at the first session. If you have questions regarding credit for a course you are interested in, please call 301-840-6740. If you have questions and are currently enrolled in a course, please ask your instructor.

Tuition Reimbursement: Tuition reimbursement through MCPS applies for credit earned through Fitchburg State University, provided that the course was taken outside the duty day. See this link for additional information.

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What do I do with my certificate/grade slip once I have completed a Skillful Teaching and Leading course?

If you took the course for graduate credit through Fitchburg State University, you must request a transcript on Fitchburg’s website. Please retain a copy for your records since the original must be forwarded from Certification to MSDE.

If you are not taking the Skillful Teaching and Leading course for graduate credit or CPD credit, but wish to use it as credit towards renewing your MSDE advanced professional certificate, you must forward a copy of the “Certificate of Completion”, sent to you by your instructor.

Send the transcript from Fitchburg State University or the to "Certificate of Completion" to:

Marie Bercaw, Certification Coordinator
MCPS- Office of Human Resources and Development
Attn: Certification Unit
45 W. Gude Drive, Suite 2300
Rockville, MD 20850

If you took the course for CPD credit, staff from the Office of Human Resources and Development will send a copy of the CPD credit slip to Marie Bercaw, Certification Coordinator. Participants do not need to send their copy of the CPD credit slip to Marie Bercaw.

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What do I do if I have not completed my Skillful Teaching and Leading course?

If you have not completed your Skillful Teaching and Leading course, call your instructor at 301-840-6740. S/he will know if you are still eligible to complete the course and what steps must be taken to meet standard. Course work may be made up within a semester of the course completion date.

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Who is required to take Observing and Analyzing Teaching 1 and 2?

Observing and Analyzing Teaching (OAT) 1 and 2 courses are designed to enhance instructional leader skills in order to support the professional growth of teachers. OAT 1 and OAT 2 are the two required courses for principals, assistant principals, assistant school administrators, secondary resource teachers, interdisciplinary resource teachers, resource counselors, content specialists and consulting teachers.

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Who is eligible to take Observing and Analyzing Teaching for Aspiring Administrators?

Enrollment in OAT 1 is also open to aspiring administrators. Admission to these classes is limited to those who have completed or who are about to complete their administrative and supervisory certificate and who intend to apply to the assistant principal pool (AP Promotion Pool) within the ensuing 12 months. As of September 2005, successful completion of OAT 1 is a requirement for admission to the AP Promotion Pool for both new applicants and when applicants reapply after being in the pool for three years. Classes for aspiring administrators take place on Saturdays.

Admission to OAT 2 classes is limited to those who have successfully completed OAT1 and who are currently required to write observations that contribute to staff evaluations in the Professional Growth System.

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When are courses offered?

Courses are generally offered twice yearly: beginning in the summer, with completion by January; and beginning in January, with completion by May. Registration for these classes usually opens on PDO in mid-March for summer/fall sessions and in mid-October for winter/spring sessions.

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