teacher collaboration network

Incredible: Teachers are forming job-specific collaboration networks. Here’s why and how

With the support of a USDOE grant, teachers and school leaders in Delaware, Indiana, South Carolina, and Texas will collaborate for meaningful, job-specific collaboration.

Building on the former USDOE Teacher Incentive Fund program, TSL is a new discretionary grant program that focuses on professional development, performance-based compensation, and comprehensive human capital management systems for teachers, principals, and other school leaders.

The concept of a NIC stems from the ground-breaking work of improvement science originated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. With E3’s 47 schools each having 50 percent or more free- and reduced-lunch rates, the goal of the project is to open up systemic pathways for effectiveness and successes to permeate across (not just within) schools. This “cross-school collaboration” will aim to help reduce professional isolation and provide educators with a broader network of peers for meaningful, job-specific collaboration for school improvement.

E3 participating districts include Colonial School District (New Castle, DE); Gainesville Independent School District (Gainesville, TX); Marion County School District (Marion, SC); Marlboro County School District (Marlboro, SC); and Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township (Indianapolis, IN).

A Systemic Approach to Improving Student Achievement

E3’s theory of action is that all schools and participating districts are working to create or enhance the most powerful levers to improve both principal and teacher effectiveness—at the systems level, with a constant focus on results. E3’s project objectives are purposefully transparent and aligned to the theory of action:

  1.  improve student achievement;
  2. increase and support teacher and principal effectiveness; and
  3. evaluate the return on investment of every project activity versus student achievement.

The core of each partner district’s efforts to improve teaching is leveraging current human capital. Grounded in research and experience, E3 employs systemic approaches from the macro to the micro level of instruction, including rigorous academic standards with wrap-around supports and the following levers:

  • NICs for school leadership teams and teachers to learn from one another by sharing resources as well as leveraging educators’ expertise inside and among districts;
  • instructional leadership teams through TRACTION for School Improvement;
  • creating a career ladder continuum at E3 schools for teachers;
  • leadership academies for aspiring and current leaders;
  • professional learning communities (PLCs) using Supporting Teacher Effectiveness Project, an evidence-based, asset-based model developed in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the American Institutes of Research, Kitamba, Kerri Kerr Consulting, to identify bright spots to replicate in local schools and across NICs; and
  • job-embedded individual and peer coaching in-person and by video using Insight’s Coaching for Change model and a video-based observation and coaching platform.

With stakeholder engagement and local control as major drivers, there will be an advisory council comprised of representatives from participating schools that will serve as the governing body for TSL implementation across all partner districts. Each district partner will in addition have a standing stakeholder group to decide the local, contextually specific items.

E3 will afford smaller, rural districts many of the same advantages of larger districts, including the opportunity for their educators to become part of a much wider community of educators for professional growth purposes, while at the same time allowing them to maintain and grow their local professional communities.

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