(Unofficial) DCPS Feeder Patterns & 2013 School Classification (Index Score)

Updated Version:

In order to provide clarity, and thanks in large part to feedback, I’ve eliminated the “Focus” classification, which is a special classification, and not necessarily tied to a school’s index score. Therefore, the new color-coded map (below) accounts for schools’ index scores, alone.

Unofficial DCPS School Boundary & 2013 School Index Score (1)

 

 

 

 

Are “Teacher Professional Partnerships” a viable career ladder option?

Dear Teachers,

During a school day, have you ever wondered, silently or aloud, any of the following statements:

1) There’s a more effective way of doing ____________________,

2) If we could only change ____________________.

3) I wish we could start doing ____________________.

If you answered ‘yes’ to these statements, then this message is for you.

Perhaps, there is a more effective way. Perhaps, we can change ______________________. Perhaps, we can start doing ______________. What on earth am I talking about? I’m talking about teacher autonomy via Teacher Professional Partnerships (TPPs).

teacher run school

What are TPPs?

According to Education Evolving, a project venture of the Center for Project Studies, Teacher Professional Partnerships (TPPs) are “formal entities, organized under law (partnerships, cooperatives, limited-liability corporations, etc.), that are formed and owned by teachers to provide educational services.” The TPP approach requires its member (teachers) to collectively manage the school. Rather than place all the administrative burdens at the principal’s doorstep, TPP teachers must perform all school-specific administrative tasks. In addition to sharing administrative responsibilities, TPP teachers also share accountability for the overall school’s performance, and each individual student’s achievements. (For example, click here to view Boston’s Pilot School/Horace Mann Schools Network’s 5 principles of Autonomy and Accountability).

Click here for a brief historical overview on U.S. schools with teacher autonomy

 

How are TPPs structured?

Teachers can use a variety of legal arrangements to form TPPs. Although there are ten distinct TPP arrangement types, eight are “formal.” These formal arrangement types include:

1. Provision in collective bargaining agreement + Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

2. MOU between district and union local

3. MOU between school, district, and union local + Waiver from state statute

4. Instrumentality charter contract + MOU between school, district and union local

5. Contract between chartered school board and teacher professional partnership

6. Chartered school contract and/or chartered school bylaws

7. Pilot school agreements (Boston and Los Angeles)

8. Site-governance agreement between district school board and district school

Click here for a brief description of each arrangement type.

 

Teachers working together

TPP as a viable career ladder option, and not as a panacea

First and foremost, I’m not suggesting that granting full, decision-making autonomy to a talented team of teachers, alone, is a panacea for public education. However, providing space for talented teachers to form TPPs has, at least, two major benefits. First, TPP teachers will gain valuable on-the-job training, especially with respect to school administrative management. Second, TPPs teachers can acquire such leadership skills without forfeiting their role as classroom teacher. Even though it’s easy to provide a laundry list of significant challenges, such as addressing potential gaps in administrative skills, I urge you to focus on the two main benefits as you continue to research TPPs.

Click here for an inventory list schools with teacher autonomy.

 

schooldoodlelarge66

For now, I’ll pose the same question: Are TPPs a viable career ladder option?

Well, in my professional opinion, if the goal of a career ladder is to develop teachers, i.e. leadership and management skills, while retaining them within the classroom, then yes! TPPs do represent a viable, career ladder option. Sure, TPPs aren’t for every teacher, and that’s okay. Sure, not every TPP will succeed. And. That’s okay, too! But for those teachers, who have demonstrated success, perhaps the ultimate professional opportunity is a chance to partner with like-minded colleagues to help tackle some of our greatest educational challenges.

 

The Edtech Trinity: Time, Training, and Tools

Edtech Trinity

Edtech tools will never replace teachers, but teachers who use edtech tools will replace those who don’t. There’s absolutely no denying that edtech tools are changing the teaching profession. As a result, I’ll argue that the edtech trinity in education must include time, training, and tool searching. As the edtech industry grows and becomes more advanced, every teacher will have the following choice to make: either get ahead of the learning curve or fall further behind.

Time

Regardless of your education reform perspective, the classroom teacher is, and always will be, the true agent of change. Even though teachers may feel powerless, at times, they must remember to assume responsibility for what they can control. Therefore, when it comes to edtech, there’s no substituting time and knowledge. Teachers need time to “play around” with edtech tools. This cannot be in the form of a “one-off” meaningless professional development presentation. A one-hour training session on the benefits and features of a particular edtech tool isn’t going to “cut it.” Yes, less tech-savvy teachers will need exposure to the edtech landscape, but, more than anything else, they’ll need an ample amount of time to learn how to effectively use these tools within the classroom.

Training & Support

In addition to time, teachers need a safe space to risk successful implementation. Every teacher navigates through an educational field filled with competing interests. For example, teachers face pressures from education policy-makers, district staff, school leaders, parents, and students. Therefore, to maximize teacher buy-in, teachers need to feel supported throughout the transitional period. Put simply, teachers who risk success need technological and pedagogical support from the entire system (i.e. from the district superintendent/chancellor to the school’s administrators). With time and space established, teachers must show a willingness to learn new instructional delivery systems. Undoubtedly, edtech tools will change a teacher’s role from a “sage on the stage” to a “face-to-face (F2F) facilitator.”

Since “change” isn’t always an easy process, school leaders must focus on recruiting and selecting teachers who have successfully demonstrated self-reflection and risk-taking abilities. Let’s not view edtech through rose-colored glasses. Some teachers will not spend the necessary time, especially outside of the school building, to learn how to leverage edtech within their classroom. So, instead of focusing solely on “scaling up” as fast as possible, school leaders must appoint certain teachers to serve as the school’s edtech guru. This way, fellow teachers can observe an edtech classroom and learn from a colleague, and not a district appointed “expert in a suit.”

Tools

First, let me start by dispelling a popular twitter-verse myth: edtech tools aren’t the Bill Gates, et al., Trojan horse. Although private companies are forming partnerships within the American K-12 public education system, we need not fear ALL edtech. Are some edtech tools designed by big companies? Yes. Are some edtech tools costly to use? Yes. With that being said, there are an abundant amount of tools that are neither designed by private companies nor costly to use. In fact, many of the edtech tools I’m currently using within my classroom are teacher-created and FREE! So, again, not all edtech tools are part of a grand plan to end public education. As long as you view them through this lens, you’ll surely miss the opportunity to “step up your teaching game.”

Since I have only five-weeks experience, and counting, using certain tools, I highly recommend using edSurge and Graphite to search for edtech tools. edSurge allows you to set “search” filters, including subjects, platform requirements, and costs. In my professional opinion, edSurge is 100% teacher- and administrator-friendly. I’ve attached a screenshot of its “Edtech Index” page for your review.

Image

Graphite serves the same purpose, and offers a filtering mechanism as well. However, to experience the best results, you’ll need to create a free account by signing up first. I’ve attached a picture of Graphite’s educator search page for your review as well.

Image

Personally speaking, I find edSurge more navigable, especially after establishing search criteria filters.

Without a doubt, the edtech industry will continue to expand. Teachers, both novices and veterans alike, will have to choose between two outcomes: 1) leading from the front or 2) trailing from behind. There’s no substituting for time, training, and tool searching. However, one thing is certain: edtech is changing, and will continue to change, the teaching profession. Even though edtech, itself, will never replace teachers, those who effectively use edtech will definitely “rise above the rest.”