Traveling around the country and visiting schools, I am always amazed at the power of educators to connect with and develop each student. As I reflect on last year and look ahead to 2023, I am reminded about how vital it is for us to focus on these educators and how to best support them, so they can do their best for all kids.
A new calendar year brings for many of us a sense of new beginning and opportunity (perhaps even a few regrets on unfinished resolutions). For educators, the new calendar year is the time to reflect on the fall semester progress and plan for the remainder of the school year. It is a time to re-center on the fundamental strategies we know result in great teaching and learning in every classroom, every day, for every student. For state, district, and school leaders, the new year is a time to reflect on the quality of support and the systems that are in place to support teachers, and whether these systems and structures are helping teachers to be more effective and retaining them in your school or district.
At NIET, 2023 begins with clarity in our resolution to build educator excellence to create opportunities for all students. To meet this resolution, we remain focused on our core belief that every student in America should be taught by an excellent teacher and supported by effective leaders. To advance this idea, we will build on three key strategies we learned with our partners in 2022 to support student and teacher success in 2023:
#1. The most effective learning acceleration strategy is great classroom teaching
In 2022, our partners achieved success accelerating learning by prioritizing teacher support. Learning acceleration starts with teaching current grade-level content and only bringing in remedial content if a student demonstrates the need for it. This requires significant skill on the part of the classroom teacher, along with high-quality instructional materials that engage all students in grade-level learning. Interventions such as high dosage tutoring, extending the school year, and summer sessions are important supplements for students with the greatest learning needs; however, the most successful strategy is to focus on ensuring that all classroom teachers are equipped to support learning acceleration strategies during core classroom instruction.
As a leader or leadership team, consider how you can invest in helping teachers improve their instruction in order to accelerate learning and maintain grade-level expectations for all.
#2. Instructional support must align to the high-quality curriculum a teacher is using
Helping teachers to make the most effective use of a high-quality curriculum is a core priority at NIET. We support teachers to develop their instructional skills with the curriculum they use every day in the classroom. Connecting high-quality instruction with high-quality curriculum leverages curriculum to deepen effective teaching. Our support helps teachers go to the next level with their curriculum, so students can access the full rigor of grade-level standards.
As a leader or leadership team, consider the steps you can take to determine where teachers are in their ability to use a high-quality curriculum and how to integrate support for the curriculum into professional learning and classroom coaching.
#3. Effective school leadership teams engage teacher leaders
Expanding the school leadership team to include teacher leaders is a highly impactful way to recognize teacher talents and provide leadership opportunities. When teacher leaders are empowered with responsibility, accountability, and the authority to drive instructional improvements, districts are seeing an impact on teacher retention and satisfaction. Our work with partners also demonstrates that engaging teacher leaders helps schools to meet the diverse academic needs of every student.
In 2023, our focus will continue to be on high-quality teaching and learning in every classroom as the core strategy for accelerating student growth. Together, we can continue to elevate educators and make great teaching the centerpiece of every school. I look forward to continuing to provide support to all of our partnering teachers and school leaders because they are the key to reaching every child.