What is an Opportunity Culture?

In an Opportunity Culture, all teachers have career opportunities dependent upon their excellence, leadership, and student impact. Advancement allows more pay and greater reach. Development toward excellence is possible for all staff, in every role.

As schools and teachers have begun implementing this vision, we have seen potential for extended-reach models to start a virtuous cycle of teacher selectivity, opportunity, and higher pay—for all:

New Virtuous Cycle GRAPHIC

  • Selectivity about who enters and remains in teaching becomes easier when schools offer the engaging, developmental, financially rewarding jobs with outstanding peers that high performers want. When good teachers benefit developmentally and financially from having great peers, everyone has a reason to advocate for selectivity.
  • Opportunity for career advancement while teaching and rigorous, on-the-job learning become possible when fully accountable, excellent teachers advance by leading, collaborating with, and developing peers in teams to reach more students. Co-teaching on teams where excellence is acknowledged provides authentic on-the-job learning and enables a team’s teaching to rise to the level of the most skilled teachers in each instructional area. Paraprofessionals scheduled correctly enable these teams to collaborate during school hours and reach far more students.
  • Pay that is substantially higher—six figures on average, within budget—becomes possible, without forcing class-size increases, when teams reach more students than possible in today’s one-teacher-one-classroom mode. Less-costly paraprofessionals save teachers time for reach, and academic resource teachers shift into fully accountable teaching roles, making teacher pay increases of 20 to 130 percent possible. Reallocation of other spending to higher teacher pay is also crucial to achieve six-figure average pay.

We call this an “Opportunity Culture.”

The extended-reach models must meet our Opportunity Culture Principles, for whole schools or individual courses.

Opportunity Culture Principles

Teams of teachers and school leaders must choose and tailor models to:

  1. Reach more students with excellent teachers and their teams
  2. Pay teachers more for extending their reach
  3. Fund pay within regular budgets
  4. Provide protected in-school time and clarity about how to use it for planning, collaboration, and development
  5. Match authority and accountability to each person’s responsibilities