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Applying a “Do Now, Build Toward” Approach to Reimagine the Teaching Job

Building toward a bold new vision of the teaching job requires reallocating resources so that well- supported, and diverse teams of educators can share the work required to support and educate all students. This starts with identifying the right with “catalytic entry point” for your system.

Getting Started with Catalytic Entry Points

Catalytic entry points are cohesive strategies that are actionable in the near-term and stimulate meaningful long-term change up and down the system. Each entry point:

  • Addresses felt needs and pain points right now
  • Builds towards a fundamentally improved student and teacher experience
  • Builds new skills and mindsets at all levels in support of the vision
  • Motivates, enables, and forces change in all other critical areas
  • Tackles underlying cost structures to enable long-term sustainability
  • Requires fundamental change at the system and school level that enables lasting impact

Five Catalytic Entry Points for district leaders to consider

  1. Drive instructional improvement through team-based professional learning 
  2. Make the work more sustainable by changing staffing and scheduling models
  3. Better develop and retain rookie teachers
  4. Strengthen and link compensation and career pathways
  5. Diversify and expand the incoming teaching force


Districts have different priorities and needs that may lead them to a different catalytic entry point. But regardless of where you start, a long-term view is critical to catalyze long-term change. That means moving beyond traditional pilots and isolated innovations to focus on strategies that encompass multiple dimensions for organizing resources, incorporate system-level improvements to make the strategy scalable, and include both near-term and long-term actions for change.

Learn how to find the right catalytic entry point for your system and build towards a reimagined teacher and student experience.


Get Started with Catalytic Entry Points


Prioritizing Areas of Focus

Reimagining the teaching job is a bold pursuit, but leaders can take meaningful steps with a “Do Now, Build Toward” approach that lays the foundation for sustainable change and benefits all students and teachers.

Through thoughtful discussion in four key areas, district leaders can identify the optimal catalytic entry point for reimagining the teaching job in their system. Below is a downloadable resource to support the dialogue around identifying strengths (#2) and enabling conditions (#3). 

The right catalytic entry point for your system will address felt needs now while also laying the groundwork for significant and lasting change in the teaching job. To help with prioritization, consider:  

  • What is the most critical issue you need to address to improve the teaching job in your district?
  • What are the root causes of this challenge?
  • Which aspects of this challenge emerged during COVID? Which were core to how teaching is structured in your system even before the pandemic?

Successful change efforts can build from an existing platform of success. Even where teacher turnover is unsustainably high, the large majority of teachers return to the job each year—often with joy and a high bar for excellence. To identify your current strengths, consider: 

  • What are the most compelling aspects of the value proposition for teaching in your district? In your highest-need schools? 
  • What is happening differently in schools where teachers are most engaged and most successful in their work? 
  • What conditions and practices are contributing to these pockets of strength? 
  • How could the district expand or deepen these strategies?

“Enabling conditions” are the policies and context that make bold, positive change possible. Many of the policies and constraints that we take for granted today are unintended consequences of well-intentioned strategies. For instance, the desire to minimize potential for bias in staff assignments and responsibilities has, in many systems, led to rigid assignments and role definitions that make it difficult for teachers to work collaboratively and limit schools' ability to provide integrated supports for students.

To identify the areas where enabling conditions for change already exist—even if no one has fully capitalized on them yet—consider:

  • In which parts of the teaching job framework do optimal conditions for change already exist?  
  • How could the district better leverage these conditions to strengthen the value proposition for educators? 
  • In which areas could changes in state policy or labor agreements create new opportunities to re-imagine the teaching job? 

Armed with the knowledge of critical needs, existing strengths, and enabling conditions for change, leaders can identify the catalytic entry point that offers the greatest potential for reimagining the teaching job. As you review the options, consider: 

  • Which entry points would best address a pressing need in your system? 
  • Which allow you to build upon existing strengths, either system-wide or in a subset of schools? 
  • Which take advantage of enabling conditions for change—especially conditions that exist but have not yet been fully leveraged to catalyze improvements in the teaching job? 
  • What other factors could do you and your team need to consider in order to reimagine the teaching job in your system? For example, consider the timeline for collective bargaining, current distribution of student need and teacher expertise, school leader resource flexibility and capacity to drive change, and so on. 

Below, you’ll find a DIY assessment tool with guiding questions to help district teams identify the strengths of their value proposition for teachers (#2 above) and clarify which enabling conditions that are, and are not, in place to support bold improvements to the teaching job (#3 above).  

With this resource, district teams can be better equipped to establish priority focus areas that reimagine the teaching job and create a springboard for broader and deeper shifts over time. 


Download the Diagnostic Tool



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