This post by Whitaker Brown, an eighth-grade science teacher at Ranson IB Middle School in Charlotte, N.C., first appeared on the Project L.I.F.T. website. See here to learn how to apply in February for Opportunity Culture positions in the Project L.I.F.T. zone of schools. Long nights. Physically and emotionally draining days. Moments feeling that I […]
The Importance of Having an MCL
This post by Nicole Hardy, a kindergarten teacher at Ashley Park Pre-K–8 Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C., first appeared on the Project L.I.F.T. website. See here to learn how to apply in February for Opportunity Culture positions in the Project L.I.F.T. zone of schools. This is my first year in Project L.I.F.T., and my first […]
New Models Combine Teacher Leadership, Digital Learning
Teachers using blended learning need guidance to help students achieve high-growth learning consistently. Teacher-leaders and their teams need time to collaborate and learn together on the job. Students need access to personalized instruction that catalyzes consistently high growth and expands their thinking. How can schools achieve all of these goals? Combine blended learning with teacher […]
“Every Great Teacher Needs a Coach as Well”
Last week, Multi-Classroom Leader Bobby Miles spoke at the Teach Strong launch, part of a panel moderated by Amanda Ripley, author of the New York Times bestseller The Smartest Kids in the World, and including former Rep. George Miller of California, senior education advisor at Cengage Learning; Mary Cathryn Ricker, executive vice president of the […]
Recruiting for Hard-to-Staff Schools
By Sharon Kebschull Barrett; first published in School Administrator magazine. You know rock star teachers when you see them. They are capable of commanding attention day in and day out, and they motivate students to achieve well beyond standard expectations. They even help other teachers succeed. So how can school districts attract them, especially to […]
In the News: Charlotte Multi-Classroom Leaders Explain Jobs
Learn about an Opportunity Culture from some of the people who know it–and love it–best: Ranson IB Middle School multi-classroom leaders (MCLs) Bobby Miles and April Drakeford, along with Principal Alison Harris, and Ashley Park PreK-8 MCL Kristin Cubbage told Andrew Dunn of the Charlotte Observer and TimeWarner Cable News how Opportunity Culture roles keep great teachers in the classroom and provide the support, collaboration, and coaching all teachers need.
“This definitely is my dream job,” Drakeford told TWC News. “Teachers are getting better each week because they’re coached weekly. …It’s a lot of work, but you see so much success.”
In video clips for Dunn’s Opportunity Culture primer, Miles, Cubbage, and Harris explain some of the differences between Opportunity Culture positions and usual teaching roles, and tell how an Opportunity Culture creates career paths for teacher-leaders to stay in the classroom and keep and support great teachers.
An Opportunity Culture for Teaching and Learning: Introduction
Brief provides an overview of how an Opportunity Culture can help teachers have the well-paid, empowered profession they deserve—while helping many more students succeed.
Nashville Student Teachers Earn, Learn, Support Teacher-Leaders
Better-prepared new teachers, more adults in every classroom, more small-group instruction, more adults caring for every student—how can a school wrap all that up in one package? Three Metropolitan Nashville Opportunity Culture schools are trying a novel approach with paid, yearlong student teaching positions. In a new case study, Public Impact examines this “aspiring teachers” program and its early implementation.
In 2013–14, the two elementary schools and a middle school, part of Nashville’s Innovation Zone created to help high-need, low-performing schools, combined the aspiring teachers program with the Opportunity Culture Multi-Classroom Leadership model. Multi-Classroom Leadership extends the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within budget. A multi-classroom leader, or MCL, leads a team of teachers while continuing to teach, helping the team teachers develop and excel through extensive co-planning, co-teaching, and feedback on the job. MCLs take accountability for the learning of all students in their “pods,” and delegate responsibilities to teachers and paraprofessionals that make the best use of everyone’s time.
How has the program, which pays student teachers nearly $15,800 and benefits—in a position that is usually unpaid—affected all the teachers on these teams? Aspiring teachers say they will enter their first teaching jobs, especially in high-need schools, much better prepared. Team teachers and MCLs working alongside them appreciate the assistance in the classroom and the quiet pressure to “up their game” even more. While MCLs are formally accountable for the whole team’s outcomes, team teachers mentor the aspiring teachers, too, forcing them to think about the effectiveness of their own teaching methods.
Giving thanks for Opportunity Culture Multi-Classroom Leaders
Need more to be thankful for this year? Add these committed, enthusiastic, deeply determined teacher-leaders to your list! I recently interviewed multi-classroom leaders in in three Metro Nashville schools that use Opportunity Culture models. Videographer Beverley Tyndall and I couldn’t wait to share at least a few bits of these inspiring interviews, and we’ll soon be posting more videos from Opportunity Culture team teachers and principals–for whom we’re also quite thankful! For now, enjoy hearing just a bit about why these teacher-leaders love what they do!
Being a Multi-Classroom Leader: “It Is My Dream Job”
“I glance at my computer clock; it is already time for the next block and I forgot to eat lunch. When a Frenchman forgets about eating, this is a sign that he loves what he does.”
So says Romain Bertrand, the first multi-classroom leader (MCL) at Ranson IB Middle School in Charlotte, N.C., today in “Expand Your Reach: New-world role combines coaching teachers and teaching students” on Education Next. Walking readers through a piece of a typical day, Bertrand explains how he leads two pods of three teachers and one learning coach (or teaching assistant) each–and is responsible for the learning outcomes of 800 sixth- and seventh-graders.
In an Opportunity Culture, MCLs earn significantly higher pay; in the Project L.I.F.T. schools within Charlotte-Mecklenburg, that means up to $23,000 more, or 50 percent more than average teacher pay in North Carolina. MCLs get to continue teaching while providing on-the-job professional learning for their teams, planning, coaching, and collaborating with them.
Bertrand loves his job–and he wants the world to know, so other teachers can have similar, highly paid opportunities that let them advance while staying in the classroom, reaching more students with great teaching. For more about him, Multi-Classroom Leadership, and the Opportunity Culture schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, see:
Courage Gap? Action Gap? Not at These Schools
At the Education Writers Association conference in Nashville on Tuesday, I listened to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan reiterate his belief that “education is the civil rights issue of our generation.”
On that, we at Public Impact couldn’t agree more.
He also talked about the outrage over our nation’s achievement gaps and worries about opportunity gaps. The country has, he said, a “courage gap” and an “action gap.”
We’d like to direct his attention to some teachers and leaders showing both courage and action.
In Opportunity Culture pilot schools, teachers are taking action, redesigning their schools to extend the reach of great teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within current budgets. Their leaders are showing courage by finding ways to make these redesigns possible within state rules and tight budgets. Creating Opportunity Culture schools means letting go of traditional one-teacher-one-classroom mindsets—and opening the door to career paths that let great teachers lead while continuing to teach, to opportunities for great teachers to reach more students directly with their inspiring instruction, and to opportunities for all students—not just a lucky few—to get excellent teaching, consistently, from teachers who get the pay and respect they deserve.
Where are those schools? Several were right under Duncan’s nose yesterday—in the iZone in Nashville. Schools in Cabarrus County, N.C., and Syracuse, N.Y., plan to implement their own Opportunity Cultures this fall. And in Charlotte-Mecklenburg (CMS), four schools participated in the pilot this year—to be joined by 17 more this fall, and by nearly half the schools in the district by 2017–18.
The pilot schools’ learning results will start rolling in this summer, with more robust data from more than 30 schools nationwide next year. But CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison saw one significant result already that led to his January decision to scale up from those first four pilots: Enthusiastic teachers, in a state where teacher enthusiasm may be at an all-time low. The pilot schools were swamped last year with applications for these Opportunity Culture jobs, even in high-poverty schools. Despite the hard work of implementing something completely new, teachers’ enthusiasm continues (see what they’re saying here).
What makes an Opportunity Culture different enough to resonate so profoundly with teachers and district leaders?
In the News: Multi-Classroom Leadership
The Opportunity Culture website is chock-full of materials to explain how our school models–such as Multi-Classroom Leadership and Time-Technology Swap–work. You can read the detailed models themselves, financial details about the models, broader overviews such as An Opportunity Culture for All or materials specifically for teachers–or you can just work your way through everything listed on the Tools for School Design Teams page to get the whole Opportunity Culture shebang.
And our case studies show how schools are just beginning to implement this work. We’ll have many more coming that get into the nitty-gritty as schools gain some experience with their new models, which design teams of teachers and administrators adapt to fit each school’s needs.
Meanwhile, though, Christina Quattrocchi at EdSurge fills in one piece of that nitty-gritty this week, in How to Teach 800 Middle Schoolers. She walks readers through the workweek of Romain Bertrand, a multi-classroom leader at Ranson middle school in Charlotte who incorporates blended learning into his math team, to help understand how Bertrand extends his reach to many, many more students than the one-teacher-one-classroom mode.
You can also read one of Bertrand’s blog posts on EdSurge, Reaching 800 Students with a Stylus and an iPad, to hear his thoughts on how thoughtful use of tech tools in the classroom can make a difference in many ways. Check out his entire blog to learn more about first-year implementation joys and challenges in his team.