Friday, December 2, 2011

Using our most effective teachers more effectively

What would I recommend to a state leader who wants to broaden access to high-quality teachers across school systems? As noted in two reports from the organization Public Impact, increasing teacher recruitment and retention efforts will only get us so far. What is needed is a complete rethinking of the roles of the most effective teachers.

In 3X for All: Extending the Reach of Education's Best, and Opportunity at the Top, Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan Hassel propose that the top quartile of effective teachers should not limit their impact to the relatively small number of students assigned to them during the traditional classroom during the regular school day, during the regular school year. These most effective teachers should broaden their impact through three approaches:
  • In-Person Reach Extension: More one-on-one in-person contact with students by reorganizing schools and teacher roles. One example of what this would look like would be a lead teacher overseeing "pods" of two or more classrooms with the help of other teachers.
  • Remote Reach Extension: These most-effective teachers interact one-on-one with students, but by either asynchronous or real-time exchanges, either within the same building or across distances. The authors note that this can take the form of "e-mail exchanges, multiperson blogs or online discussion boards, and individualized feedback about work submitted online."
  • Boundless Reach Extension: Delivered just via technology, and "boundless" considering the limitless number of students who can be impacted.

Great ideas all. Yet various policy barriers described in the reports limit the implementation of these approaches. Let's hope states address these obstacles in 2012 to bring the best teaching to many, many more students.

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