Better teaching requires better school design, writes Education Sector’s Elena Silva in Teachers at Work.
Today, most teachers’ work is isolated and fragmented, with no defined pathways for career development, few mechanisms for feedback, and a schedule that is disconnected from the reality of what teachers actually do and what students actually need.
Furman Brown’s Generation Schools model starts with recruiting good teachers, but that’s just the first step.
Instead of isolating teachers, the Generation Schools model organizes them into grade- and subject-based teams, designed to blend different types of expertise and levels of experience. The daily schedule and calendar are designed with time for regular and ongoing teacher collaboration and planning, giving teachers “time to learn from each other and to learn from their work,” Brown says. In the mornings, all teachers teach 90-minute academic classes that average 14 students; afternoons are divided into shorter, larger elective courses and two hours of daily planning. Twice a year, grade-based teaching teams get a four-week break—three weeks to rest and one week to meet, plan, and observe colleagues. The breaks are staggered throughout the year, and while one group of teachers is on break, another team of their colleagues steps in to teach their students “intensive” monthlong literacy courses focused on career and college planning. The result is a school year that is extended to 200 days for students—20 more than the national average—without having to extend work time (and pay) for teachers.
The model doesn’t cost any more than a regular school.