Originally published by 100Kin10, a national network of partner organizations committed to adding 100,000 high performing STEM teachers by 2021. This report highlights ERS' work supporting schools in their work of strategic school design.
Read our new report “Teachers at Work: Designing Schools Where Teachers and Students Thrive”, an analysis of the research surrounding teacher work environment in schools and the most promising collaborative opportunities for addressing these issues.
Schools are the engines of economic and social mobility, where the virtues required for citizenship are wrestled with and practiced, and where the foundations of a robust and dynamic citizenship, democracy, and economy are nurtured.
Teachers are the heart, soul, and muscle of our schools. Research has pointed time and time again to teachers as the strongest in-school influence on student learning and development. But too often, we fall victim to the misimpression that schools must choose either student learning or teacher learning, when in fact student learning and teacher learning are interwoven and mutually reinforcing. When teachers flourish as professionals in schools, they leave the classroom far less frequently and have significantly higher satisfaction. As a result, teacher instruction is stronger, students learn more, and our next generation is more prepared and inspired to pursue the educations, careers, and lives of their choice.
Over two years, 100Kin10 developed the Grand Challenges, an unprecedented roadmap of the underlying problems facing the STEM education landscape and the first-ever comprehensive ecosystem of a social-sector problem. The map identifies 104 critical challenges and the “catalysts”, the greatest leverage points for change across the Grand Challenges. The catalysts reflect the synthesis of tens of thousands of perspectives on which issues, if improved, would generate a domino-like effect and the most improvement across the system.
Three of the catalysts were related to teacher work environments, which far overrepresented this issue’s appearance in the map at large. Based on their outsized influence, as well as partner desire to work on these topics, current field-wide activity and interest, research into opportunities for impact, stakeholder evaluation of their value, and the network’s unique position to make change against them, we decided to focus the network on these three. To reiterate, they are relevant professional growth during the school day, opportunities for teacher collaboration during the school day, and school leader responsibility for creating positive work environments.
Over the coming year and beyond, we will work with and empower our network to collaboratively effect lasting change against these catalysts related to work environment. The network at large will both accentuate that focus and continue to support all partner organization in the network to learn, innovate, and implement their work toward the shared goal of providing America’s classrooms with 100,000 excellent STEM teachers and addressing the Grand Challenges that created this shortage in the first place.
Our new report “Teachers at Work: Designing Schools Where Teachers and Students Thrive” is intended to lay the groundwork and be the launchpad for diverse, coordinated, and mutually reinforcing efforts to improve school work environments, not to serve as a research publication. With this in mind, we have designed the report in two parts: 1) the “actionable brief” focuses readers on background information, a summary of the themes identified through the research, and the most meaningful opportunities for impact, and 2) the “supporting research and analysis” that ensures that those who want to dig in deeper or access more specific evidence have the means to do so.
We invite you to join us. Start by digging into the research. Then contribute your unique assets and resources to coordinated efforts to transform more schools into supportive and growth-oriented workplaces for teachers and thriving learning environments for all members of the school community. Together we can support all schools to develop and nurture a positive work environment for teachers.