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May 17, 2018
As historians and New York City educators, here’s what we hope teachers hear in the city’s new anti-bias training
New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and Mayor Bill de Blasio just committed $23 million over the next four years to support…
March 21, 2018
During Memphis visit, former Newark schools chief touts ways to change student discipline
Cami Anderson is meeting this week with educators in Memphis as part of her Discipline Revolution Project.
January 31, 2018
How ‘central office’ in Memphis is taking on a new meaning under Sharon Griffin
A year after becoming the first chief of schools, Griffin is working to make central office more responsive to needs of schools rather than imposing top-down mandates.
October 18, 2017
How a Memphis pre-K giant is changing the way early childhood educators are taught
About 500 Memphis teachers will go through Porter-Leath’s training this year in an effort to boost the quality of early education instruction.
August 9, 2017
Tennessee teachers are warming to evaluations as a tool to improve their work, survey says
The state’s latest educator survey shows that 75 percent of teachers found evaluations helpful last year in improving their teaching, almost double from 2012.
try try again
July 20, 2017
Why this Bronx middle school believes in second — and third — chances
Students are regularly tested on learning targets. But they’re also given three chances to prove they’ve mastered the skills.
mend it or end it?
July 12, 2017
Why a long-time critic of teacher professional development is arguing against Trump’s push to cut federal funds for it
Dan Weisberg, the president of TNTP was on Capitol Hill this week pushing back against the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to Title II funding.
An education U-turn
June 22, 2017
Carmen Fariña wants to help New York City teachers get better at teaching. But some of her own reforms are getting in the way.
The chancellor’s emphasis on teaching the teachers marks a radical shift from the preceding administration.
August 17, 2016
GRIT? 901PD4ME? Memphis teachers invited to name new professional learning system
Shelby County Schools is seeking to build excitement around its new tool for professional development.
July 25, 2016
New Nashville teacher cooperative chips away at public, private partition
A new teacher cooperative hosted by the University School of Nashville brings together teachers from Nashville's public and private schools.
June 16, 2016
Memphis Teacher Residency launches new training program
Almost 300 teachers and graduates of the teacher residency program will have access to a new training program this year called MTRUniversity.
May 25, 2016
Why one Brooklyn high school is making a big bet on teacher training
Abraham Lincoln High School is gambling on professional development as a way to improve student outcomes.
March 21, 2016
Six months after sobering study, bill to up pre-K quality heads to governor’s desk
State lawmakers unanimously pass a bill designed to make pre-K classrooms stronger.
January 26, 2016
After more than a year of review, here’s what’s being recommended to revise Common Core in Tennessee
A state panel sends its recommended revisions to K-12 academic standards to the State Board of Education for a first vote on Friday.
A different perspective
December 16, 2015
International education leader: Let U.S. teachers collaborate, learn from one another
Montserrat Gomendio of the OECD, the organization behind the international exams known as PISA, has a few tips for the U.S. education system.
War on illiteracy
July 30, 2015
This year, Shelby County students will read, read … and read
To address abysmal literacy rates in Memphis schools, the district will implement its comprehensive literacy improvement plan this school year.
June 6, 2015
Extra hour for struggling schools faces union pushback, scheduling challenges
Seven months after Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to extend the day by an hour at 94 low-performing schools, the city is facing backlash from the principals union.
May 15, 2015
Survey: Marion County teachers not satisfied with training
Indianapolis schools spent more than $11 million last year on teacher training, but a new survey suggests that most teachers aren't satisfied with it.
March 11, 2015
Coaching model aims to help support teachers’ thinking
"The belief is that every teacher has experiences they can draw on to support them in making their own decisions," said Sarah Baird, who is leading the district's training in Cognitive Coaching.
February 27, 2015
IPS teachers push for better training during extra work days
Educators say IPS's professional development offerings need to be vastly improved before teachers get on board with the idea of expanding the calendar.
January 21, 2015
Ferebee wants IPS teachers to work five more days
Indianapolis Public Schools teachers say Superintendent Lewis Ferebee's plan to improve instruction by adding five training days to the calendar starting next school year will end up costing them.
November 13, 2014
Q&A: The high school teacher who turned her stories into a comedy show
Out of the classroom now for more than a year, Vaynblat has turned that experience into a one-woman comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade, which begins Friday night. The 30-minute show is titled "United Federation of Teachers' and Vaynblat plays embellished versions of the co-workers she's met over the years, but she's adamant that it's not a knock on teachers.
October 24, 2014
To improve teaching, give teachers collaboration time, not just pre-made lessons
Education professor Sharon Dotger argues that teachers need more than a reduced lesson-planning burden to improve — they need time and techniques to examine what worked and didn’t work in their classrooms.
Developing Professional Development
September 16, 2014
With 80 minutes of new teacher training each week, schools set out to see what works
Schools are coming up with ideas to fill 80 minutes of new teacher-meeting time every Monday, even as skeptics question whether teachers and students will benefit from the weekly sessions.
teachers talk tech
July 30, 2014
On working tech into the classroom, teachers and students have plenty of ideas
Teachers shared their ideas and best practices for incorporating web-based apps into the classroom at the School Technology Summit Wednesday.
May 5, 2014
Educators question contract's bet on teacher training over student tutoring
Reallocating tutoring time to professional development and parent outreach makes sense to many, but others note that professional development can vary widely in quality—and question whether teacher training ever trumps instructional time.
May 2, 2014
Here are some details about the “professional time” in the new contract deal
The proposed new teachers contract would undo a key provision of the 2005 contract, which expanded the school week so that teachers could work…
April 30, 2014
Fariña's big bet on school improvement takes shape
It’s growing clearer how Fariña’s signature Learning Partners program—a big bet on collaboration, rather than competition—will play out.
April 18, 2014
What the teachers' contract talks are all about, part II: Evaluations and training time
In our second part covering the teacher contract talks, we focus on teach evaluations and the potential for extra time in the school day or year for professional development. Could a "thin" contract be in the cards for some schools?
February 20, 2014
Carmen Fariña's game plan to undo (and redo) the Bloomberg years
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña has been tasked with helping to deliver big new priorities for the Department of Education, including a much-hyped expansion of pre-kindergarten. But when it comes to administering kindergarten to 12th grade, Fariña said in a sit-down interview that she wants the department to look more like the one she left eight years ago.
March 15, 2013
Astor Collegiate's future reporters sharpen their interview skills
GothamSchools represents at Astor Collegiate Academy Career Day. Usually when I visit the schools, I’m the one asking questions. Today, students at Astor Collegiate Academy in the Bronx interviewed me. It was Career Day, and in classrooms throughout the high school, fellow visitors and I had to account for what we do and why we do it. After hearing a bit about how I ended up at GothamSchools and what I do each day, students discussed what makes a good interview question. One student suggested that a good question "makes the person you’re asking explain something,” and her classmate said it also "leads to another question." Then students took on the role of interviewers. Here’s a sampling of what they wanted to know about journalism: Do you get to travel a lot?
November 6, 2012
Dewey gets its building back, but longer-term problems remain
Smoke billows from John Dewey High School following the sound of an explosion on Monday night, during Hurricane Sandy. Credit: Sandra Aronowitz-Garron/Youtube Teachers from John Dewey High School reported for duty to Sheepshead Bay High School on Monday with a sinking feeling. Months after narrowly escaping closure, the school had struggled since September to settle on programs for its 1,900 students and, if that were not enough, its Gravesend building had caught on fire during Hurricane Sandy. Now they thought students and staff would have spread out among three different school buildings, including Sheepshead Bay, for the foreseeable future. "It could be, without a doubt, another nail in the coffin," one teacher said about the planned relocation. "It's a whirlwind to be told to go here or there." The school’s staff spent Monday deciding who would report where on Wednesday, and creating new schedules for their students. Then, late Monday evening, teachers got a phone call from the Department of Education with unexpected news: Dewey would be able to reopen right away after all. Teachers said the phone call came as a welcome surprise, but some said they thought the location was the least of Dewey’s worries. Last week, Chancellor Dennis Walcott cited Dewey as one of the most severely damaged schools in the wake of the hurricane. And teachers said they had received no hints that the school would be ready to reopen any time soon, even after Principal Kathleen Elvin stopped by the building to assess repair efforts on Monday morning and afternoon. But department officials said the School Construction Authority had been able to install a generator and get Dewey’s boiler to work, making the building safe for students and teachers. The quick return was exactly what some teachers said they thought the school needed.
August 23, 2012
Some city schools look for support to boost teacher leadership
For many of the city's strongest teachers, moving up professionally means moving out of the classroom and on to jobs in school management, consulting, policy, or academia. That was the conclusion of a recent survey from the New Teacher Project on the challenges districts face retaining teachers who have hit their stride. The Department of Education is in the early stages of several experiments to encourage those teachers to stay in schools, offering higher-level professional development and sometimes higher pay. But some school leaders don't want to wait to give their teachers opportunities to improve their leadership practices. Enter the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education, a fledgling training program for teachers who have already demonstrated strength and commitment to the profession, but want to improve even more. For the past two years they have offered teachers around the country an intensive leadership training workshop tailored to the experiences of classroom instructors. This year, six city teachers joined a cohort of 50 in Chicago, for a two week long summer seminar series. The curriculum is split between teaching skills and leadership skills like public speaking and improvisation, and peppered with business school-style case study reading assignments, according to Deborah Levitsky, the program director. The idea is to help them to think deeper about non-supervisory leadership roles, such as grade-level team leaders and department chairs. The program runs for two years, with a winter weekend-long meetup and at-home reading and writing assignments.
August 2, 2012
Educators use the summer to bolster math and science skills
Jose Luis Vilson attended a science and math workshop at the Kennedy Space Center. (Courtesy of the GE Foundation) Some teachers use the summer break to unwind from a busy school year, refine their lesson plans for the fall, or take a short-term second job. Others seek out new knowledge in the subjects they teach. "If you're teaching science, you should be learning about science," said Nate Finney, a Manhattan teacher who is spending the summer working in a physics laboratory. GothamSchools spoke to a handful of city public school teachers who sought out seminars, workshops, and classes to help them learn more about their fields. Today, we're looking at teachers who decided they wanted to know more about math and science. Jose Luis Vilson, I.S. 52, Manhattan In sunny Orlando, Jose Luis Vilson got the chance to live out a childhood dream of becoming an astronaut. Vilson arrived at Florida's Kennedy Space Center in mid-July to take part in a weeklong course created and funded by the GE Foundation. The course focused on integrating math and science instruction and anchoring both in new learning standards that call for more critical thinking. "They're working with NASA to try to approach and integrate Common Core standards with current pedagogy," said Vilson, who teaches eighth-grade math in Washington Heights and maintains a popular blog about teaching.
July 16, 2012
City physics educators retool their teaching in summer school
On most days, Room 404 in Zankel Hall is a laboratory used by graduate students at Columbia University’s Teachers College. But for the next two weeks, the lab is the temporary headquarters for a group of educators who are rethinking what it means to teach physics to high school students. The educators are participating in a workshop about a three-decade old teaching strategy called Modeling Instruction in Physics. The strategy shuns the rote memorization of physics formulas and instead applies abstract ideas to real-life situations so that students can observe and understand concepts from “model” experiments. "This modeling instruction method incorporates the best things that have happened in physics education in the last 50 years, and puts it in a way that is teachable and reproducible to a large extent if the teacher is motivated, interested, and well-educated," said Fernand Brunschwig. Brunschwig chairs Physics Teachers NYC, a 100-member group of educators who meet once a month to share ideas and trade instructional methods. The group organized the summer workshop.
June 27, 2012
Teachers use final days of this school year to prep for the next
Kindergarten teachers at P.S. 11 plan their curriculum for the coming school year. Principal Bob Bender wanted to make sure his teachers started planning for September before they left for summer vacation. So P.S. 11 joined more than 600 schools in scrapping classes on Monday and Tuesday in favor of adding prep time for teachers. Department of Education officials extended the option, which parents were supposed to approve, to all schools late this spring. Many schools took the time to give teachers a crash course in new learning standards known as the Common Core. The Common Core emphasizes "deeper" thinking and problem-solving skills. Next year's state tests will be based on the new standards. P.S. 11 routinely earns A's on its city progress reports, and Bender said he is not worried about its performance next year because his staff has been thinking hard about the instructional shifts they will have to make. "It's not going to be asking 'What is 8 times 5?' It's going to be 'I have 8 bookshelves, and 40 books, so how many books go on each shelf?'" he said. "We spend a lot of time on problem-solving, giving kids strategies to solve problems." This year, the city asked schools to practice with the new standards in one math unit and one literacy unit, and next year, they'll be expected to roll out two Common Core-aligned units in each subject. But at P.S. 11, Bender asked his teachers to plan their curriculums in teams made up of teachers at each grade level — and align every one of their units to the Common Core.
February 3, 2012
Students lead the news cycle at Brooklyn Prospect's Career Day
Brooklyn Prospect students listen to sports writer John Walters talk about his career path and professional life. When Brooklyn Prospect Charter School students next sit down to work on their school newspaper, they shouldn't have any trouble coming up with stories to cover. As one of more than 20 speakers at Brooklyn Prospect's Career Day, I spent the morning talking with eighth-graders about what it's like to work as a journalist. Newly armed with knowledge about the distinctions among news, features, and opinion writing, the students broke into small groups to brainstorm article ideas about their school. One big piece of news, the students said, is that Brooklyn Prospect has hired a principal for its high school, which will open in September. A feature story might take an in-depth look at how the school has changed now that it is located inside Bishop Ford High School after leaving the Sunset Park High School building. And opinion columns could make the case for or against the required uniform, a green or white polo shirt with black or khaki pants. The students pointed to one story that could easily be tackled in any of the categories: a new "no hugging" rule.
January 31, 2012
At P.D. day, teachers discuss challenges of their profession
Across the city yesterday, high school teachers hunkered down for a day of extra training. Some sat in on sessions at their schools, while others scattered across the city for sessions held in the offices of educational consultants. I stopped by the Midtown offices of Math for America, a fellowship program for math and science teachers, and saw teachers working on student work to better understand why they thought the way they did. Here's what some said about some of the topics dominating the policy agenda these days (interviews edited for clarity and brevity): Bill Lamonte, Millennium High School Subject: Science Years: 10 (eight in New York City) How long will you be a teacher for? I may be a different case because I know I'll be teaching until I die. But it is hard to see colleagues that start out putting in that time and then get frustrated and end up leaving. I am challenged professionally, but some people don't want to deal with the bureaucracy of the system. The DOE is a tough place. It's very top-down. It's hard. But if you have a supportive administration and you're in a school that has ideals that you believe in, it's easier to stay because you feel you can work with people and that you can actually make a difference. Would you ever consider a school leadership position? I know I'll be teaching, but I steer clear of the administration path just because I see what happens to teachers when they become administrators. They take on another personality, in a way. Again, it's very top-down, so they have to meet certain requirements themselves. In order to do that you have to put a lot of pressure on your teachers. When you have to have a checklist – are they doing this, this, and this? – I can see how it can become a struggle to balance. Although I do find that a lot of schools struggle with having good administrators. There are a lot of weak principals out there. I've seen it first hand, especially at my old school in the Bronx. Luckily now I do feel that the administration is batter and that does make a huge difference. To feel supported in a school is really what's going to keep a teacher there.
January 17, 2012
Sweating the big and small stuff at Achievement First's P.D. day
When principals and coaches at Achievement First charter schools conducted observations this fall, they found that many teachers fell short when using a classroom technique called "checks for understanding." The technique, in which teachers ask questions to determine in real time whether students are absorbing lessons, “was the most important thing for improving our students' achievement,” said Dacia Toll, Achievement First’s founder and co-CEO. Plus, she said, "We're not asking good questions in the first place." So as the charter network's annual professional development day approached, Toll took it upon herself to lead the checks for understanding session. That session, along with 48 other training workshops, took place Jan. 6 at a Marriott Hotel in Stamford, Conn. Throughout her 90-minute session, Toll drilled the standing-room-only audience of teachers on how to ask targeted questions to ensure students understand the key points of lessons, and how to apply them. The group went over the basic techniques to ask questions — flash cards, choral responses, hand signals, pepper questions, cold calls, class sweeps, and more — and then debated which ones were better in certain situations. For example, Toll said cold-calling students would not be effective if the goal is to grasp whether an entire class understood a lesson. In that case, she said, “You’re only getting data from one student." Teachers said the content of Toll's session wasn't earth-shattering – many reported learning some version of Checks for Understanding during their regular certification process — but provided an important refresher.
December 2, 2011
DOE recruiting teachers to help colleagues with Common Core
The Department of Education is looking within itself for help creating instructional materials to go along with new curriculum standards. The city is hiring 30 to 40 teachers and administrators with experience in curriculum development to devise literacy and math lessons that are aligned with the Common Core, the curriculum standards the state adopted this year. The "Common Core fellows" will serve as "a class of leaders," evaluating current teaching methods and writing new instructional materials for schools to use, according to DOE spokesman Matthew Mittenthal. The teachers who are selected will also get authorship credit when they produce new materials and overtime pay for attending workshops twice a month and during school breaks, according to a brochure soliciting applications. The program's quarter-million-dollar price tag is being footed privately, Mittenthal said. The department will also invite local and national curriculum experts who devised and studied the Common Core, which begins in preschool, to train the teachers on how to evaluate student work and devise good instructional practices, he said. "The final product will be a portfolio of resources for all New York City public schools: tasks for students, best teaching practices, guidelines for evaluating a classroom, and sample student work," Mittenthal said in an email. Bernard Gassaway, the principal of Boys and Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, said he is not sure how useful those materials would be for his teachers. The main resource he needs to align instruction to the Common Core, he said, is on-the-ground assistance and time to integrate the standards slowly.
September 28, 2011
Tech discounts to help state teacher centers offer digital training
Teach for America members aren't the only teachers to start getting digital tools from a technology giant. A new partnership between a statewide network of teacher training centers and Microsoft will give teachers access to discounted computer hardware and software, and help using them. Announced this week, the Tech4Teachers program will flood New York State Teacher Centers with new technology options at lower than market-rates. There are 250 center sites in New York City and 130 more throughout the state, offering in-person and virtual assistance to public and private school teachers. Microsoft's assistance comes at a time when state budget cuts have constrained resources at the teacher centers, which provide professional support in the form of online and face-to-face training to teachers across the state. The centers were cut from last year's state budget, but this year the Assembly budgeted $20.5 million for them, approximately half of what the centers have been funded for in the past, according to Gail Moon, the state's acting teacher centers program director. Though the centers receive support from the state's teachers union and some local unions, including the United Federation of Teachers, they primarily rely on the state for funding. The partnership with Microsoft may alleviate some of the financial stress on teacher centers, staff members said, adding that the stress is particularly sharp now that the centers are tasked with helping teachers and networks understand new instructional standards and integrate technology in their classroom. "The way we're looking at doing that is using technology by offering more webinars, electronic video conferencing capabilities, more professional development to more people, and then reducing the cost," said Stan Silverman, co-chair of the centers' technology committee. Silverman said he will also use the program to show state legislators that teachers centers need more resources.
September 7, 2011
City's Common Core rollout ramps up today with teacher training
When it comes to new "common core" standards, theoretical language is giving way to hands-on practice. The curriculum standards, accepted by 48 states, are being rolled out citywide this year after being piloted in 100 schools last year. Today, every teacher in the city is expected to get training on them. Chancellor Dennis Walcott sat in on a training session this morning at Brooklyn's PS 124, which took part in the pilot last year. But at many schools, today is likely to be the first time that teachers learn just how the common core standards are poised to change their jobs. Some principals put together their own plans for today, but they can also draw on four 90-minute lessons the city devised. One session asks teachers to evaluate student work from their own school to see if it meets the new standards. In another, they will practice assessing teachers according to a new evaluation rubric. A third lesson focuses on connecting two overarching citywide goals: strengthening student work and teacher practice. And a fourth lesson asks teachers to examine student work from a school that adopted the new standards last year. The lessons are part of the Department of Education's online "Common Core Library" of resources. In a letter to principals last week announcing the lesson plans, Walcott laid out a timeline for schools' common core-related accomplishments. This fall, he wrote, teams of teachers at each school should identify students' shortcomings. In the winter, teachers should ask all students to complete two common core-aligned "tasks," one in reading and one in math. Through it all, principals should be giving teachers frequent feedback based on classroom observations, Walcott wrote. Walcott's letter to principals is below:
June 9, 2010
On a teacher training day, workshops include circus skills
City students will stay home for an odd midweek break tomorrow and teachers will head to training sessions during the weekday formerly known as Brooklyn-Queens Day. From 1829 to 2006, schools in Brooklyn and Queens were closed on the first Thursday of June so that students could honor their Sunday school teachers with parades and parties. Over time, the original purpose was mostly lost, but schools in the two boroughs continued to shut their doors one day each June. That all changed with the 2005 teachers contract, which extended the day off to students across the city but turned it into a professional development day for teachers. Now it's called "Chancellor's Conference Day for staff development related to the Regents High Learning Standards and Assessments," according to the Department of Education's calendar, and teachers are required to report for duty. ("Students IN ALL FIVE BOROUGHS will NOT be in attendance," the calendar warns.) That doesn't mean the day will be all work and no play for city teachers.
August 6, 2009
NYC high school teacher one of three chosen to work for Duncan
Jason Raymond A New York City high school teacher is one of three fellowship winners who, come Monday morning, will begin new jobs in Washington, D.C., as full-time employees of the Obama administration's Department of Education. In the middle of June, Jason Raymond, who has taught English and journalism at the High School for Law and Public Service for seven years, learned that he had been chosen for the department's Teaching Ambassador Fellowship. He quickly packed up and moved to D.C., where he will be part of a program created by the previous secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, to bring teachers into the rooms where education policy is crafted. Raymond, 38, whose expertise is in adolescent literacy, college readiness, and urban schools, said he will be working in the office of elementary and secondary education. "I'm going to be bringing my teacher voice to policy," he said, explaining that he would sit in on conversations about certain grants the DOE planned to distribute. As a Washington fellow, it will be Raymond's job to point out proposed ideas that may not work well in the classroom and suggest alternatives, but the scope of his influence will be limited. "It won't be that I'm sitting in a room with other policy experts and saying you know here's what I think we should do," he said, noting that the details of what he'd be focusing on were still be worked out.
June 4, 2009
An ancient tradition explains why city students have today off
An excerpt from the Brooklyn Eagle's 1896 Children's Day report Across the city, kids are staying home today for an odd mid-week day off, while…
January 22, 2009
Top DOE official enrolling in elite superintendent training program
Garth Harries The top Department of Education official who is set to review the city's special education system is adding another job to his plate: He's joining a national program designed to produce top-notch urban superintendents. Garth Harries, who until the end of this month is the chief executive of the DOE's portfolio department, is one of 12 people accepted into this year's Broad Superintendents Academy class. The academy, which is based on business executive training programs, is run by the Broad Foundation, which also gives out the annual Broad Prize for Urban Education. New York City won the Broad Prize in 2007. As a Broad fellow, Harries will stay on at the DOE but will leave the city for six multi-day retreats throughout the year. He'll also have regular homework assignments. (Already, Helen Zelon at Insideschools has chimed in with concern about just how much Harries can cram into his calendar.) We asked Harries for a statement, and got this response from Chancellor Joel Klein instead: Garth's selection reflects the extraordinary work he's done in New York and his potential to be a great superintendent in the future. The Broad Academy says it expects its graduates to seek superintendencies, but of the DOE officials who have gone through the program, most still work in the city.
December 8, 2008
Teacher: Why was I trained in literacy program we aren't using?
Last year, New York City first grade teacher Peace in the Classroom got trained in a literacy tutoring program which her administration promised to…
October 27, 2008
Professional development: The good, the bad, & the ugly?
Three teacher bloggers recently had three very different experiences with professional development. Senorita in the City gave up a Saturday to participate in a workshop…
October 21, 2008
EdWeek: Many schools “data-rich but information-poor”
Illustration by Bob Dahm for EdWeek. Miss G. is blogging again with brief dispatches from long, long days in her new school. As hard…
October 7, 2008
Teacher-centered reforms key to Chattanooga schools' turnaround
Federal Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings visiting a Chattanooga school in 2005. Bonuses for teachers based on value-added measures. Firing and selective re-hiring of all teachers. Were these the key reforms responsible for the significant improvement of the "Benwood eight," a group of struggling schools in central Chattanooga? Elena Silva of Education Sector argues in Phi Delta Kappan that what really turned around these schools was validation, support, and on-going professional development for Chattanooga's existing teaching force: [It} would be a mistake to conclude that efforts to bring different, more effective teachers into the Benwood eight represent the only -- or even the primary -- lesson of the Chattanooga reforms. What Benwood teachers needed most were not new peers or extra pay -- although both were helpful. Rather, they needed support and recognition from the whole community, resources and tools to improve as professionals, and school leaders who could help them help their students. The pay incentives didn't attract many new teachers, Silva says, but they were "a way of signaling that the local community valued the Benwood teachers and supported their work." Silva says that though the district made all teachers in the Benwood schools re-apply for their jobs, the majority were re-hired and the teaching staff in these schools did not change significantly, although the numbers she cites suggest that the re-hiring process was more than just letting go of a few bad apples. If cleaning house and providing performance incentives weren't wholly responsible for improvement, what was? The answer is all the more crucial given the blitz of new and expanded merit pay plans, teacher-linked data collection, and aggressive evaluation of teachers in districts across the country. Silva believes it was a host of reforms focusing on supporting teachers and improving their practice.
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