Guilford County Schools has amazing teachers who are making an impact every day. The challenge? Providing those great teachers with opportunities to impact even more students and share their skills with other educators, without leaving the classroom.
Starting with the 2018-19 school year, Guilford County Schools is launching Opportunity Culture, a new initiative designed to allow excellent educators opportunities to take their talents to the next level. Opportunity Culture gives GCS’s excellent teachers the opportunity to extend their reach by leading teams and supporting teachers and students, while earning additional pay.
The Opportunity Culture initiative will benefit:
- Highly successful teachers, who can show other teachers how to achieve success by sharing what works and what doesn’t – plus, they’ll advance their careers and receive additional compensation for their success and willingness to lead others.
- All teachers, who can benefit from collaboration and learning how their coworkers are making it work in their own classrooms. GCS is committed to providing all teachers with the absolute best professional development; what better place to learn than from inside your own school and community?
- Students, who will benefit from excellent educators who are expanding their reach. Research on the national Opportunity Culture initiative shows that schools implementing this team-leader approach see strong academic gains for their students in math and reading.
What is the Opportunity Culture initiative?
The Opportunity Culture initiative aims to extend the reach of excellent teaches and their teams to more students, for more pay, while increasing on-the-job support for all teachers. It all happens within schools’ recurring budgets, which means supplements and teacher support will not be funded by short-term grants that will go away just when we see these new roles make a real difference in our schools. Public Impact, a national research and consulting firm, launched the Opportunity Culture initiative’s implementation phase in 2011, with funding from The Joyce Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The five Opportunity Culture Principles help school districts extend the reach of excellent teachers and principals to far more students, and to their colleagues, ensuring these new roles are sustainable and effective. The principles call for teams of teachers and school leaders to choose and tailor structures to:
- Reach more students with excellent teachers and their teams;
- Pay teachers more for extending their reach;
- Fund pay within regular budgets;
- Provide protected in-school time and clarity about how to use it for planning, collaboration, and development; and
- Match authority and accountability to each person’s responsibilities.
What will an Opportunity Culture look like in GCS?
Educators determine how best to implement an Opportunity Culture in their schools.
A team of teachers and administrators in each Opportunity Culture school determines how to make the initiative work for their school. The school teams redesign schedules to provide additional time for teacher planning and collaboration, typically with “multi-classroom leaders” leading small teams and providing frequent, on-the-job development. The school design teams reallocate school budgets to fund pay supplements permanently.
Our schools will be using the multi-classroom leader role, as well as teacher roles known as expanded-impact teachers, and paraprofessionals known as reach associates. All these roles will receive substantial pay supplements, going up to $20,000 in Title I schools for multi-classroom leaders (MCLs). Supplements vary by how much teachers or MCLs are extending their reach and supporting colleagues.
Does an Opportunity Culture work?
Researchers at the Brookings Institution and American Institutes for Research recently released a study showing the effect an Opportunity Culture can have: Teachers who were on average at the 50th percentile in student learning gains, who then joined teams led by teacher-leaders known as multi-classroom leaders, produced learning gains equivalent to those of teachers from the 75th to 85th percentile in math, and, in six of the seven statistical models, from 66th to 72nd percentile in reading.
What can that mean for students? With these results year after year, students beginning kindergarten one year behind can catch up by the end of second grade—and spend the rest of their school careers on advanced math. It would take longer for reading, but the same kindergartners can still catch up before middle school. Nearly three-fourths of these schools were Title I, showing that teachers and students in every school can succeed with the right support.
What new roles are available in an Opportunity Culture?
There are two new roles for teachers and one for paraprofessionals within the Opportunity Culture initiative.
The Multi-Classroom Leader leads teachers and other staff members to meet the leader’s standards of excellence. The Multi-Classroom Leader establishes each team member’s roles and goals at least annually, determines how students spend time and organizes teaching roles to fit each teacher’s strengths, content knowledge and professional development goals. The Multi-Classroom Leader also teaches students her/himself in most cases. The team uses the leader’s methods and tools. The Multi-Classroom Leader organizes the team to review student progress and change instruction as needed to ensure high-progress learning for every child. The leader works collaboratively with the team, using the team’s new ideas and innovations that the leader agrees may improve learning. The Multi-Classroom Leader is fully accountable for the learning and development of all students taught by the team members.
- Multi-Classroom Leader 1-Leads 2-3 Teachers
- Multi-Classroom Leader 2-Leads 4-5 Teachers
- Multi-Classroom Leader 3-Leads 6-8 Teachers
Expanded Impact Teacher:
The Expanded Impact Teacher plans and delivers in-person instruction for multiple classes in a school where students rotate between a paraprofessional and the expanded impact teacher. While one class of students works with a paraprofessional to cover basic knowledge and skills, the Expanded Impact Teacher teaches another class of students, focusing on delivering personalized and enriched instruction. The teacher is responsible for planning, preparing, and delivering instruction, and monitoring student progress to determine instructional needs. The teacher is also responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of the paraprofessional’s instruction and making or recommending changes. The teacher collaborates with team members, such as other teachers, tutors, and assistant teachers, to review student progress and change instruction as needed to ensure high-progress, enriched learning for every child. The team leader variation combines this role with multi-classroom leadership, and includes input into choosing and managing team members and digital resources.
- Expanded Impact Teacher 1-Reaches at least 33% more students
- Expanded Impact Teacher 2-Reaches at least 50% more students
- Expanded Impact Teacher 3-Reaches at least 66% more students
The Reach Associate assists with instruction and takes responsibility for the non-instructional duties of one or more teachers, as designated by each teacher. The Reach Associate assists with and facilitates small and large group student learning, with and without technology. The associate works closely with the teacher(s) to coordinate various administrative duties and completes non-instructional paperwork. The Reach Associate manages procedures and supervises student behavior during transitions, lunch, recess, assemblies, and other unstructured activities, and while teacher(s) deliver instruction. The Reach Associate reports to the Principal or Multi-Classroom Leader.