Education after the Pandemic

From National Affairs, Winter 2022, by Frederick M. Hess

Until March 2020, American schooling looked much like it had in 1920. Despite new technologies, ever-increasing outlays, and wave after wave of reform, the rhythms and routines of America’s schools were little changed. Students set out from their homes to school in the early morning, sat in front of a teacher in primary school or a series of teachers in secondary school, sporadically used the latest technologies, and then headed home. Dress codes, popular pedagogies, the number of adults in the building, and the technology may have changed, but what students and teachers actually do had not.

Professions from architecture to accounting offer more promising approaches, in which staff are utilized with an eye to skill set, experience, function, and cost. The Opportunity Culture model, currently employed to varying degrees in about three dozen school systems, illustrates a nascent attempt to import one such approach to schools. The model permits an experienced teacher to mentor a team of novice teachers without having to leave the classroom to become an administrator or instructional coach. Lead teachers are responsible for the whole team’s students, are paid commensurately, and enjoy new professional opportunities. In addition to offering a more sensible use of teaching talent, such options give exceptional teachers the recognition they deserve and may help prevent them from departing for new opportunities. Read more…

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