Keeping Kentucky’s Teachers: How Opportunity Culture® Roles Could Help

by | February 24, 2022

By Public Impact®, February 24, 2022

When the Northern Kentucky Tribune took a look at why schools struggle to retain teachers, Data Editor Jan Hillard noted several “best-practice solutions,” including Opportunity Culture® models.

Hillard highlighted Opportunity Culture® roles, such as Multi-Classroom Leadership, as a way to improve career advancement and development.

As Hillard noted, Opportunity Culture® models, including Multi-Classroom Leadership, provide ways for teachers to advance without leaving the classroom. Multi-classroom leaders—teachers with a record of high student learning growth—lead a small teaching team, providing guidance and frequent on-the-job coaching while continuing to teach part of the time. They co-teach, model instruction, observe and provide feedback, and lead data analysis and planning for the team, all according to the needs of each team teacher.

Northern Kentucky, Hillard wrote, has a high turnover rate, with an average of 7 percent of teachers leaving each year, increasing to 13 percent of teachers leaving their school districts in 2020–21. Kentucky schools that serve low-income students and students of color experience an even higher turnover rate. Read the full piece to understand more about how that affects Kentucky and its students.

In fact, redesigning a school using Opportunity Culture® models can address all of the solutions Hillard noted—improving support for new teachers; improving teacher recruitment and preparation; improving administrative leadership; and improving working conditions, workload, and compensation. Briefly, here’s how.

Improving support for new teachers: The intensive support of multi-classroom leaders (MCLs) can prove especially valuable for new teachers, rather than leaving them to sink or swim in the early years (“it is not unusual for 1/3 of new teachers to leave in their first 3 years of service,” Hillard notes).

Improving teacher recruitment and preparation: Opportunity Culture® districts may work with local education preparation providers to create yearlong, well-paid teacher residencies. Working under an MCL’s guidance, these residents gain significantly more experience than typical student teachers. MCL-guided residencies can ensure that prospective teachers learn the elements of instructional excellence, attract a diverse pipeline of teaching candidates into the district, and provide the students taught by the resident with strong learning experiences.

Improving administrative leadership: Opportunity Culture® roles also make distributed leadership possible in schools. Multi-classroom leaders ease the pressure on principals and assistant principals to support all teachers. And teachers receive support from someone they view as collaborative, instead of evaluative, especially because their MCL has “skin in the game” by being accountable for the learning results of all students taught by the team. MCLs are part of the school’s instructional team of leaders, working closely with administrators in such areas as school culture, scheduling, and schoolwide initiatives.

Improving working conditions, workload, and compensation: The five Opportunity Culture® Principles call for all participating schools to ensure that teachers extending their reach receive more pay, within school budgets, and that Opportunity Culture® roles include protected, in-school time for planning, team collaboration, and on-the-job development. Higher pay helps recruit and retain excellent educators, and the increased support and planning time improves working conditions and student success.

Research has shown that on average, teachers who joined Opportunity Culture® multi-classroom leaders’ teams moved from producing 50th percentile student learning growth to 77th percentile student learning growth, and educators want their schools’ Opportunity Culture® implementation to continue.

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