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 How to reach far more young children with excellent teaching: Vision brief from Public Impact

The following is a press release from Public Impact


When children lack access to high-quality early childhood development, they fall further behind their peers with each passing year before entering kindergarten. This deficit leaves wide gaps for K–12 educators to close, and it starts a vicious cycle of negative and inaccurate perceptions about students’ actual potential to learn and achieve, in school and life.

For educators, the early childhood field is modest-wage and low-support, with few career options for instructional leadership or on-the-job development. For the great teachers who stay despite that, the usual staffing model limits how many children they reach with their excellent teaching.

In Excellent Teaching for Every Young Child: Opportunity Culture in Early Childhood Education, Public Impact explains how the Opportunity Culture initiative—already disrupting the low-support, low-option pattern in K–12 schools— could make a difference in early childhood education through Multi-Classroom Leadership. In the Multi-Classroom Leadership model, teachers who have produced high-growth learning lead small teaching teams, for more pay, within schools’ regular budgets.

“Research consistently shows how important the first five years are to lifelong success,” said Public Impact Co- President Emily Ayscue Hassel, who with Bryan C. Hassel led the initial thinking and development of Opportunity Culture. “We know Opportunity Culture models are making a difference in the lives of K–12 students, and it’s time to extend that promise. We’re looking forward to seeing what pioneering early childhood schools and programs can do with Multi-Classroom Leadership to improve the lives and prospects of both their students and their teachers.”

Multi-classroom leaders (MCLs) in an early childhood setting guide their teaching teams on all aspects of instruction and child development, including academic learning and materials selection, whole-child development strategies, and teaching young children behavioral skills in a group.

K–12 research showed that team teachers with a typical range of prior student learning growth, who then join MCL teams, produced significantly higher learning growth among students, equaling that of top-quartile teachers in math and approaching that in reading, on average, according to a 2018 study by researchers from the Brookings Institution and American Institutes for Research. MCLs can bring that same student growth to early childhood learning—across developmental areas.

With Multi-Classroom Leadership in early childhood settings:

  • More students can have access to excellent teaching. Those who start behind or who have continuing disadvantages may especially benefit.
  • Teachers who excel with young children can earn more and help their colleagues and more children; teachers and assistants can learn more about how to help young children develop strong academic, social, emotional, physical and other skills. Coaching for teachers becomes routine, job-embedded, and financially sustainable, and the best teachers keep teaching part of the time.
  • Aspiring teachers who are earning bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, and/or certification can learn while earning a salary in paid residencies under a multi-classroom leader.
  • Early childhood programs can help more students learn and develop well. They can provide better jobs, within regular budgets, that attract, keep and develop excellent educators.
  • The economy would blossom as more students achieve their full potential.

In the national Opportunity Culture initiative, now in more than 25 districts in nine states, each K–12 school’s design and implementation team, which includes teachers, determines how to use Multi-Classroom Leadership and other roles to reach more of their students with high-standards, personalized instruction—one hallmark of great teachers. Public Impact assists school and district teams in making their plans to ensure high-quality designs that achieve strong teacher satisfaction and high-growth student learning.

Multi-classroom leaders provide instructional guidance and frequent, on-the-job development, while continuing to teach part of the time. The schools redesign schedules to provide additional school-day time for teacher planning, coaching, and collaboration. MCLs typically lead the introduction of more effective curricula, instructional methods, classroom management, and schoolwide culture-building.

Accountable for the results of all students in the team, multi-classroom leaders earn substantially higher supplements averaging 20 percent (and up to 50 percent) of teacher pay, within the regular school budget. With help from Public Impact, the school design teams reallocate school budgets to fund pay supplements permanently, in contrast to temporarily grant-funded programs.

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About Public Impact

Public Impact’s mission is to improve education dramatically for all students, especially low-income students, students of color, and other students whose needs historically have not been well met. We are a team of professionals from many backgrounds, including former teachers and principals. We are researchers, thought leaders, tool-builders, and on-the-ground consultants who work with leading education reformers.

Learn more about an Opportunity Culture on the OpportunityCulture.org website, which provides free Opportunity Culture tools, educator videos and columns, and instructional leadership and excellence resources. Funding for development of resources to help schools design and implement Opportunity Culture models and support teachers taking on new roles has been provided by national foundations.

For more information, please visit https://www.opportunityculture.org/. To arrange an interview with Public Impact, contact Sharon Kebschull Barrett at Sharon.Barrett@publicimpact.com; 919.590.4154.

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