By Margaret High, December 30, 2019
Opportunity Culture kept growing in 2019 to bring excellent teaching to students and career opportunities to educators. Our 10 most-read posts in 2019 included educator columns, new districts, the hot topic of the science of reading, teaching residencies, and more:
- The Best Tool—Sometimes: Using Tech in Elementary Schools—Column by 2018–19 Opportunity Culture Fellow Amber Hines, a multi-classroom leader (MCL) at Zeb Vance Elementary, discusses the benefits of balancing technology use in the classroom.
- Learning to Lead as a Multi-Classroom Leader—Hadley Moore, a 2017–18 Opportunity Culture Fellow, writes about leaving her teaching position at an elite, private college-prep high school to pursue making a greater impact through Opportunity Culture.
- Three More N.C. Districts to Launch Opportunity Culture with New State Funding—Opportunity Culture welcomes Lexington City Schools, Halifax County Schools, and Hertford County Public Schools.
- Arkansas Opportunity Culture Pilot Adds 3 Districts and 8 North Little Rock Schools—Opportunity Culture expands in Arkansas with the addition of three school districts and eight North Little Rock schools.
- To Teach Reading Right, Understand the Science of Reading—Kelly Butler, CEO of the Mississippi-based Barksdale Reading Institute, presented to Opportunity Culture Fellows at their 2019 convening the science of reading, just before NAEP results showed Mississippi leading the nation in reading growth. Check out our introduction and study and action guide on the science of reading—a concise way to understand the basics of reading research and turn them into simple, actionable steps to boost standard curricula. (You can hear Butler in a November On Point broadcast that also includes journalist Emily Hanford, who has reported award-winning pieces on the science of reading.)
- Doing Teacher Residencies Right: Yearlong, Well-Paid, and Led by Excellent Teachers—Using Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture model, teaching residencies are full-time, full-year, well-paid positions offered in collaboration with educator preparation providers, in which residents benefit from the powerful support of a multi-classroom leader team. (See also the Opportunity Culture residency news in Texas here.)
- What Could You Do in an Opportunity Culture?—Educators across the country share the support, collaboration, teacher satisfaction, and student learning results they see in this video that explains the basics of an Opportunity Culture.
- Public Impact Welcomes Fifth Cohort of Opportunity Culture Fellows—Opportunity Culture announces the 2019–20 fellows, 15 multi-classroom leaders and principals who have achieved strong results and been leaders in their schools and districts.
- Opportunity Culture Year in Review—What Opportunity Culture accomplished in the 2018–19 school year.
- Voices from Vance: How Opportunity Culture Is Working for One N.C. District—Vance County Schools, led by North Carolina Superintendent of the Year Anthony Jackson, express their appreciation for Opportunity Culture.
Other new pieces covered a variety of topics:
- How to Get Past the “Talent Hogs” Problem—Public Impact’s co-presidents, Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan Hassel, look at solutions for schools that go “hungry” when other schools “hog” talented educators.
- 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? This vision brief shows how.
- Multi-Classroom Leadership in Special Education—Students with disabilities need the high-growth learning and thinking skill development that comes from having excellent teachers as MCLs. Yet teachers trained to serve students with disabilities—both special education and general education—are often in short supply. Opportunity Culture could help.
- The Killer App for Digital Learning at Scale: Human Connection—Digital tools can help meet each student’s learning needs, but what’s the missing killer app that could help digital learning tools fulfill their promise at large scale, without ravaging students’ mental health? The Hassels focus on the old-school answer: human connection.
- And we published new study guides as part of our many Instructional Leadership & Excellence resources: Adjust Instruction, Execute Rigor and Personalization, and Share (one more guide, Lead the Classroom, is coming in January).
The Opportunity Culture newsletter has highlighted new tools, videos, and spotlights on Opportunity Culture districts and educators. Sign up for the newsletter here—don’t miss these quarterly resources!
Public Impact hosted the 2019 Opportunity Culture Fellows Convening in September, an event bringing together educators who have achieved strong results and are leaders in their schools and districts. We published a series of posts highlighting convening topics:
- Advocating Effectively for Opportunity Culture—Opportunity Culture Fellows overwhelmingly expressed a desire to discuss effective advocacy, especially for successful Opportunity Culture implementation. This post covers key advocacy elements and the fellows’ brainstorming of solutions to a common scenario. Also read the four-page guide developed by Public Impact that includes this scenario.
- Building Team Cohesion: Opportunity Culture Fellows Share Strategies—A panel of five fellows discussed building team cohesion, a key element of instructional excellence.
- How Opportunity Culture Principals Lead Change and Develop Leaders—Opportunity Culture Fellows learned from a panel about strong leadership; communication and strong hiring are two keys among many to success.
- To Teach Reading Right, Understand the Science of Reading—One of the top 10 blog posts of 2019 outlined key points on teaching reading right.
- Strategies for Personalization: Learner Variability Tool Can Help—Digital Promise, an independent, nonpartisan nonprofit, developed a free online tool to translate the growing body of research on learning for educators and parents.
Also from our fellows are five columns about various elements of Opportunity Culture, including excellent instruction, communication, and leadership:
- Suspending Student Suspensions: How Support Through Teaching Teams Created Strong Classrooms—By Charlotte Principal Philip Steffes, 2018–19 Fellow.
- Be the Bridge: How Multi-Classroom Leaders Smooth Teacher-Administrator Communication—By Indianapolis Multi-Classroom Leader Brandon Warren, 2018-19 Fellow.
- To Support Teachers and Students, Pass House Bill 1008—by Indianapolis Multi-Classroom Leader Jessica Smith, 2017–18 Fellow.
- The Best Tool—Sometimes: Using Tech in Elementary Schools—By Vance County (North Carolina) Multi-Classroom Leader Amber Hines, 2018–19 Fellow.
- Learning to Lead as a Multi-Classroom Leader—By Indianapolis Multi-Classroom Leader Hadley Moore, 2017–18 Fellow.
Opportunity Culture wouldn’t be the nationwide initiative it is without all of its hard-working educators dedicated to improving student outcomes and providing support for teachers. Here are just a few ways Opportunity Culture schools and educators have been recognized for the change they’ve created:
- Vance County Schools’ Jackson Named North Carolina Superintendent of the Year.
- Mary Landis, previously an expanded-impact teacher and now an MCL at Zeb Vance Elementary in Vance County Schools, was named district teacher of the year.
- Donnell Cannon, principal at North Edgecombe High School, received a standing ovation after presenting on leading school turnarounds to the North Carolina State Board of Education.
Here’s to another exciting, inspiring, student-centered Opportunity Culture year!