In 2009, Bryan C. Hassel and Emily Ayscue Hassel presented the Opportunity Culture vision: how schools can reach more students with the high caliber of instruction that great teachers provide—while also building a profession that attracts, develops, and keeps more teachers who teach at this level.
They described how schools could use job redesign and age-appropriate technology to extend excellent teachers’ reach, directly and by leading other teachers, in fully accountable roles, for more pay—but within budget, and without forcing class-size increases.
When crafted correctly, reach models allow excellent teachers to be responsible for more students’ learning and to help peer teachers excel. Good teachers learn on the job while contributing to excellent outcomes. In most models, teachers work in teams and can support each other during collaboration time built into the school day.
Since then, under the Hassels’ leadership, Public Impact has worked with and documented school teams moving toward this vision through its Opportunity Culture initiative. In the updated vision based on that work, published as An Opportunity Culture for All, we still envision excellent teachers leading their profession to achieve great results by using job redesign and age-appropriate technology to extend their reach to more students, for more pay, within budget. And it has become increasingly clear how extending the reach of excellent teachers starts a virtuous cycle enabling increased teacher selectivity, opportunity, and pay—for all:
- 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 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.