- Teacher leaders, collaborating teachers who work in teams, and support staff members who tutor and mentor students are a few of the new educator roles emerging in schools that are seeing student success with blended and personalized learning models, according to a report released today by Clayton Christensen Institute and Public Impact.
- The report, “Innovative Staffing to Personalize Learning,” draws on profiles of eight schools and school networks to identify some of the staffing practices they are using as part of their shift to personalized learning. Even in the era of personalized learning, the authors say that most schools using that approach have maintained a “one-teacher, one-classroom model where teachers work largely alone.”
- These schools, however, feature “intensive collaboration” among teachers on small teams, ongoing coaching that might even include daily observations, and paid fellowships and residencies. Teachers' schedules also allowed for collaboration.
The report suggests that in successful schools, personalizing learning is much more than what technology platform students are using. “With staffing arrangements that supported increased small-group and online study, students had more opportunities to work on individualized, self-paced instruction,” the authors write. “Schools also supported student engagement through personal goal-setting with teachers and providing more choices in where and how they learned.”
The schools and networks featured in the report include Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School, a network that uses lead teachers, learning specialists and resident teachers, for example, to allow “students to form relationships with multiple adults in the core academic subjects.” And in the Clark County (Nev.) School District, schools participating in the Franchise School model have organized educators into three primary roles — subject-specialized lead teachers, certified temporary tutors who monitor students’ online work, and growth analysts who oversee student data and work with teachers to focus on whether students are making progress.
The authors also highlight the importance of using time in the school day differently, which provides students more flexibility and teachers more time for planning and collaboration. One challenge schools face is paying educators in these different roles using existing staffing budgets. Most schools, however, have not made drastic, expensive facility changes as they have implemented their blended and personalized learning programs. Overall, the report provides detailed descriptions of how schools are managing this shift that can be useful to school leaders everywhere.