Teachers and directors shouldn’t do it all alone

Courtesy: New Teacher Center

The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges and created tremendous disruption for students, educators, schools and families across California, but it has also presented a unique opportunity to rethink what effective educational approaches look like in our communities.

As California continues to grapple with the impact of the virus, the recent influx of federal educational resources could enable change and advance proven strategies to address the challenges facing school communities. And prioritizing the right strategies will make all the difference.

The focus should be on holistic, sustainable support for the students, families and educators most affected by the pandemic, especially those already dealing with systemic underinvestment and entrenched barriers to opportunity. Effective strategies cannot be narrowly focused; they should focus not only on academic learning, but also on the social, emotional, creative and physical development of students.

Efforts to build the capacity of educators are a crucial piece of the puzzle. Teachers and school leaders, especially principals, have a dramatic, long-lasting impact on their students and, like students, teachers should not be asked to take more responsibility and tackle unprecedented challenges on their own without support.

As educators deal with the impact of the pandemic, solving persistent staffing challenges is critical, but we must not overlook the importance of providing opportunities for current educators to come together, share best practices over the past two years and create systems of mutual support – all essential to equip educators with the skills and resources to better manage staff shortages, curriculum changes and more.

Prioritizing training and support for teachers and school leaders, focused on empowering educators and creating positive, holistic learning experiences for all students, is one of the most transformative choices state, district, and school leaders can make right now.

The responsibility for creating robust approaches to coaching and capacity building should not lie exclusively with today’s educators and school leaders with an already full plate. Federal funding to help schools through the pandemic allows them to invest in quality partnerships with outside organizations that can provide that expertise, guidance and practical instruction to build and execute professional development strategies.

For example, in Corning Union Elementary School District, a rural school district in Northern California, staff shortages have forced teachers — many of whom have already been pressured for capacity within their existing positions — to take on additional responsibilities and workflows. By partnering with New Teacher Center – a national organization that provides personalized teacher coaching and capacity-building support to schools and districts – the district was able to increase teacher support capacity, relieve pandemic pressure on their teachers and Efforts of Educators to Refocus on Student Achievement. In particular, the organization worked with the district to provide educational coaching to new and existing teachers.

The coaching focused on two priorities: increasing reading literacy for all students and increasing English proficiency for all English language learners, providing teachers with key skills and support and enabling them to improve student performance .

Effective coaching – especially in the ongoing recovery from Covid-19 – emphasizes the interconnected and composite ways students learn and develop in different skill domains: cognitive, social, emotional, creative and physical. The impact of the pandemic was not limited to academic achievement, and building more equitable, sustainable systems requires educators and schools to help students develop the breadth of skills they need to navigate crises, and recover lost academic progress. to recover.

Coaching gives educators access to real-time feedback, encourages professional growth, increases teacher retention rates, and helps educators reach their full potential to meet the needs of their students and support their skill development.

An analysis of the New Teacher Center’s structured coaching-based induction program for professional development and mentorship of beginning teachers and beginning school principals showed that, with targeted instruction and individualized support, the retention rate of new teachers in the first year was 94%, and 99% for new clients.

In addition, educators routinely report deep satisfaction as a result of targeted coaching and professional development; in a recent internal survey conducted by New Teacher Center, 96% of teachers said working with a coach or mentor significantly improved their teaching practice.

Investing the time and resources today to co-create strategies to meet the unique needs of every school and district has the power to transform instructional practice and create learning environments where every educator and youth feels seen and connected. , and is able to thrive in the classroom and beyond.

As leaders in California explore how best to invest in education aid and recovery funding, we must seize the opportunity to build, strengthen and leverage important educational partnerships, with a focus on supporting the people who make the greatest impact every day. on our students: our teachers and leaders.

Deborah Smolover is a managing partner of New Profit, a philanthropic entrepreneurial organization that supports social entrepreneurs promoting equality and opportunity in the Americas, and executive director of America Forward, New Profit’s impartial policy initiative.

Atyani Howard is interim co-CEO of New Teacher Center.

The opinions expressed in this commentary represent those of the authors. EdSource welcomes comments representing different points of view. If you would like to comment, please review our guidelines and contact us.

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