In order to fully support teachers as they mold students into tomorrow’s innovators, school leaders must create schools that empower teachers to grow and have meaningful collaboration, according to a new report from 100Kin10.
Too often, the authors note, leaders assume they must choose between student learning and teacher learning, focusing on one and ignoring the other. In fact, the two are connected; when teachers flourish, they are more satisfied and stay in their classrooms longer, leading to stronger instruction and greater student achievement.
During a two-year period, 100Kin10 developed the Grand Challenges, which created a roadmap of the underlying problems facing STEM education. It also identified 104 critical challenges and catalysts that, if improved, could be the impetus for the greatest STEM education improvements across the education system.
The report draws from three of those catalysts to address three major issues related to teachers’ work environments:
1. Relevant professional growth during the school day
2. Opportunities for teacher collaboration during the school day
3. School leader responsibility for creating positive work environments
100Kin10 intends the report to help “lay the groundwork and be the launchpad for diverse, coordinated, and mutually reinforcing efforts to improve school work environments.”
A number of components contribute to better integration of professional growth and collaboration:
- One to two hours per week of consistent, frequent, intensive interactions between a coach and/or teacher leader and with collaborative teams
- Formal roles for teacher leaders that are well-defined, with clear authority and accountability attached to the role, multiple roles in a teacher leadership career path
- Clear, new roles for school leaders as supporters of teacher leadership, and through a distributed leadership model
- Structures, tools, and resources that guide collaboration and professional growth activities and ensure they are relevant, meaningful, and actionable
- Capacity-building and ongoing support for school leaders, teacher leaders, and teachers to effectively carry out professional growth and collaboration activities during the school day
- A high-quality standards-aligned curriculum serving as a precondition of and foundation for teacher growth and collaboration activities