Project beginning this fall in Grand Rapids area schools aims to support achievement gap closing
“I learned what great teaching was by seeing great teachers at work, and no one works harder in education than an elementary teacher,” Tolson says. The program will involve a team of “teacher coaches” who will meet with five or six teachers in each school each week to provide feedback and offer instructional support in a collegial approach.
“We’re not here to fix ‘broken teachers,’ but to support the already great things going on,” Tolson says. “Our aim is to give teachers a chance to be reflective about their work in a non-evaluative way, with a purpose of improving their skills and a focus on student achievement. That’s where we come in, to help the good teachers become great, and help effective teachers become even more highly effective.”
Tolson also will work directly with principals on systems-level approaches to supporting students and teachers in their schools. “Looking at systems gives us a chance to help teachers see where they fit in to the overall goal of helping students achieve,” he said.
Another goal of the program is to develop a performance-based model to identify “master teachers” and a career pathway to get there.
For The Education Trust-Midwest, the lessons learned in the practical, day-to-day work of helping teachers and school leaders become more effective also will inform the organization’s research and advocacy efforts across the state.
“We believe that all students can succeed at a high level,” Arellano says. “And we believe this work will help us get there.”