Stretch a great teacher in many classrooms.
A team believes that all classroom technology is less powerful than a great teacher in the world. And, since we haven’t figured out how to clone our best teachers, some schools across the country are trying something similar: to move them across multiple classrooms.
“We may never fill every classroom with one of our teachers,” says Brian hassel, founder of Public Impact, a charlotte, education consultancy. But, he says, it is important to ask: “how can we change the way schools work so that the best teachers we have access to more students, even all students?”
Public Impact is working with schools in Tennessee, north Carolina and New York to create what is known as the “opportunity culture” for teachers. This is part of a broader turnaround strategy for schools like Bailey Middle Prep.
Know Whitney Bradley.
Bailey sits in a posh neighborhood in east Nashville, but has the worst test scores in Tennessee. There are many students behind, and top teachers like Whitney Bradley are closing the gap.
As a multi-class teacher, Whitney Bradley played the coach and helped the teacher join her team. Ultimately, her assessment depends on the performance of her students and her team members.
Blackfarmer/Nashville public radio.
“It’s terrible,” said Bradley, pinching his nose as he sprayed a can of air freshener. “They are the most expressive group of children.”
One of Bradley’s eighth-graders had already passed gas, setting off a typical high school confusion and laughter moment.
Bradley – because she is familiar with students and colleagues – not afraid to be with her children, and they love her too. It was one of the reasons she was a teacher of the year in Tennessee. Another reason: she knows when to be serious.
“Let’s face it,” she told the class in a few minutes. “we’ve been there for six weeks, and there’s a spring break before TCAP.”
When her students prepare to take the country’s writing test, she is not eager to do it overnight, but instead USES a diary exercise to simplify it into material. Why is that?
“For struggling readers and writers, they may know little about Shakespeare, they might not know literary allusions, but they know that their own,” she explains how to organize an article to the class after said. “It’s strategic, they’re writing, and they don’t know they’re going to start writing an article.”
Bradley’s tactics paid off. Her assessment puts her in the top ranks of teachers across the state to help students grow. She was the kind of natural leader who was told – and even seduced – to become the principal.
But professor Barbara stang, of Vanderbilt university’s Peabody college, says Bradley is the kind of teacher the school should bow to.
“How do we create career paths for teachers, as good as Whitney Bradley, so we don’t have to make them managers?” She asked. “They can still be in the classroom.”
Stengel advised Bailey Middle in its multi-lab instructor experiment. The school hires “lead teachers” to handle their own courses, while paying them to supervise a small group of teachers. In pele, the teams also included uncertified assistants from Peabody and a full grade teacher.
The new hierarchy solves several problems at the same time, Stengel says. The director teacher became her automatic teacher supervising the teacher. Middle management can also help schools give them more reason to pursue and keep teachers from leaving the classroom.
In the trenches but in charge.
Salaries and new titles only formalize what many great educators have done.
Whitney Bradley says that even at age 28, mother and guidance will naturally come for her. Her colleagues asked her for help. Her room is a center. The teachers ask quick questions or call Bradley every few minutes.
As a multi-class coach, Bradley was like an infantry officer who was responsible in the trenches. In between calls, she taught the lessons of each student. Then she asked her student teacher to take over some one-on-one work and help the teacher in the next room deal with the discipline problem. A boy had a cartoon on his hoodie, mostly naked women.
As part of the new role, Bradley is no longer solely responsible for her classroom. Her assessment now depends on her students’ test scores and student performance under her leadership.
“The 100 students lost weight on my shoulder, but I had a team strong enough,” she said. “They followed me.”
Bradley admits that this is sometimes an “awkward dance”. For better or worse, the teacher is used to working alone. Now they have a teacher looking at their shoulders.
Ann Marie Dvorak, who is thought to be an apprentice teacher, jokes that she is one of “subordinates”.
“We talk about how we are equal, and we plan to be equal. Sometimes – obviously – when Bradley has more responsibility, “Dvorak says. “But to be honest, I think the philosophy behind it is very important.”
It is too early to say whether the model really helps students. But for teachers, Dvorak says, the idea of multi-classroom makes work more like a career in growth space.