By Sharon Kebschull Barrett, August 1, 2019
Read our vision brief: Excellent Teaching for Every Young Child: Opportunity Culture in Early Childhood Education
What if far more children ages 0–5 who are in early childhood education and care settings had consistent access to excellent teaching? In these critical developmental years, young children—especially those who have fewer educational and developmental advantages outside of formal settings—need excellent teaching every year to fulfill their potential.
When children lack access to high-quality early childhood development, they fall further behind their peers with each passing year before entering kindergarten. This deficit leaves wide gaps for K–12 educators to close, and it starts a vicious cycle of negative and inaccurate perceptions about students’ actual potential to learn and achieve, in school and life.
And what if their teachers and caregivers had highly supportive, on-the-job development and sustainably funded career paths? Early childhood education now is a modest-wage, low-support field with few career options for instructional leadership or on-the-job development. For the great teachers who stay despite that, the usual staffing model limits how many children they reach with their excellent teaching.
We suggest something new:
Increase the reach of excellent early childhood teachers through Opportunity Culture teaching teams
The national Opportunity Culture initiative is already disrupting the low-support, low-option pattern in K–12 schools. Districts and schools using Opportunity Culture models extend the reach of excellent teaching through Multi-Classroom Leadership, in which teachers who have produced high-growth learning lead small teaching teams, for more pay, within schools’ regular budgets.
Multi-classroom leaders could make a difference in early childhood education, too.
In a new vision brief, Excellent Teaching for Every Young Child: Opportunity Culture in Early Childhood Education, Public Impact explains how.
Multi-classroom leaders (MCLs) in an early childhood setting guide their teaching teams on all aspects of instruction and child development, including academic learning and materials selection, whole-child development strategies, and teaching young children behavioral skills in a group
K–12 research showed that team teachers with a typical range of prior student learning growth, who then join MCL teams, produced significantly higher learning growth among students, equaling that of top-quartile teachers in math and approaching that in reading, on average, according to a 2018 study by researchers from the Brookings Institution and American Institutes for Research. MCLs can bring that same student growth to early childhood learning—across developmental areas.
Why Try Multi-Classroom Leadership in Early Childhood Settings?
- More students can have access to excellent teaching. Those who start behind or who have continuing disadvantages may especially benefit.
- Teachers who excel with young children can earn more and help their colleagues and more children
- Teachers and assistants can learn more about how to help young children develop strong academic, social, emotional, physical and other skills. Coaching for teachers becomes routine, job-embedded, and financially sustainable, and the best teachers keep teaching part of the time.
- Aspiring teachers who are earning bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, and/or certification can learn while earning a salary in paid residencies under a multi-classroom leader.
- Early childhood programs can help more students learn and develop well. They can provide better jobs, within regular budgets, that attract, keep and develop excellent educators.
- The economy would blossom as more students achieve their full potential.
How Opportunity Culture Works in K-12
The national Opportunity Culture initiative, founded by Public Impact and now in more than 25 districts in nine states, extends the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within schools’ recurring budgets. Multi-Classroom Leadership is the foundation of an Opportunity Culture. Each school’s design and implementation team, which includes teachers, determines how to use Multi-Classroom Leadership and other roles to reach more of their students with high-standards, personalized instruction—one hallmark of great teachers. Public Impact assists school and district teams in making their plans to ensure high-quality designs that achieve strong teacher satisfaction and high-growth student learning.
Multi-classroom leaders (MCLs) lead a small teaching team, providing instructional guidance and frequent, on-the-job development, while continuing to teach part of the time. The schools redesign schedules to provide additional school-day time for teacher planning, coaching, and collaboration. MCLs typically lead the introduction of more effective curricula, instructional methods, classroom management, and schoolwide culture-building.
Accountable for the results of all students in the team, multi-classroom leaders earn substantially higher supplements averaging 20 percent (and up to 50 percent) of teacher pay, within the regular school budget. With help from Public Impact, the school design teams reallocate school budgets to fund pay supplements permanently, in contrast to temporarily grant-funded programs.