In Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture school models, we envision roles for a variety of support staff who help excellent teachers and teams extend their reach to more students. Examples include learning coaches, digital lab monitors, assistant teachers, and tutors. These staff members don’t work in isolation, but as critical parts of their teams.
These positions typically have shorter workweeks than teachers (40 hours or less versus teachers’ actual average of 50 to 55) and are narrower in scope, making pay lower. The pay differential allows a district to provide substantially higher pay for teacher-leaders—proven excellent teachers who take full responsibility for leading their teams. Under the leadership of these excellent teachers, other teachers and support staff can learn and succeed.
If you think that sounds like a great environment for student teachers to learn great teaching from the start, the iZone initiative of Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) agrees. Beginning in 2013–14, MNPS is creating a paid one-year “aspiring teacher” role targeting student teachers, available at three schools in the iZone.
The district has worked with local teacher preparation programs to develop the aspiring teacher role. In the United States, student teachers rarely get paid. In contrast, as district employees, these aspiring teachers will receive a salary and benefits, along with credit for being student teachers while they serve full-time in three Opportunity Culture schools under the district’s highest-performing educators. They also get first shots at full-time jobs at the end of their year. The aspiring teachers’ $15,800 salary and benefits make it much more attractive than a standard unpaid student teacher position.