A year ago, Public Impact began working with school design teams of pilot schools in the Charlotte and Nashville public school districts to choose and tailor school models for extending the reach of excellent teachers to more students.
We didn’t know for certain how well the design processes would go. We chose these districts because they had leaders who showed real commitment to expanding the impact and authority of already-excellent teachers and a burning passion to help disadvantaged students. But would that be enough?
We shared design process principles, which include teacher involvement in design decisions. We shared five Opportunity Culture Principles for the new school models they would craft or tailor to their needs; they call for reaching more students with excellent teaching, higher pay, sustainable funding, job-embedded development opportunity, and authority and accountability aligned with each teacher’s responsibilities.
But we didn’t know how school teams would respond. Could they make design decisions that gained administrators’ support? How would the many good, solid teachers in these schools who were not on the design teams respond to their peers’ design choices? Would the teams craft roles that appealed to excellent teaching peers for recruiting purposes? All of these schools are high-poverty, and these teachers are no strangers to repeated “school improvement” efforts that can easily provoke skepticism.
On all fronts, these school teams exceeded our expectations.