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Friday, May 25, 2018

New Ed Models Require New Staffing Models

New K-12 educational approaches that encourage personalized and blended learning—the latter replacing a portion of traditional face-to-face instruction with web-based learning—are running afoul of the typical one-teacher-one-classroom structure. The new models pile additional tasks onto teachers already burdened by an overwhelming workload, in most cases handled solo.

Effectively implementing these new learning strategies will require adopting equally new staffing strategies, according to a new report, Innovative Staffing to Personalize Learning, compiled by the Clayton Christensen Institute and Public Impact.

The report’s authors examined how eight district, private, and charter schools and school networks used a variety of new arrangements to better support personalized and blended learning. They identified a number of elements key to the success of these endeavors:

• New roles for educators, including teacher-leaders heading small instructional teams, collaborative teams of teachers, support staff who tutored or mentored students to increase one-on-one or small-group interaction, and teachers in training who taught as part of their on-the-job learning.
• Intensive collaboration on small teaching teams to develop instructional skills faster and gain broader insights into the needs of individual students.
• Intensive coaching that involved weekly or even daily observation and feedback.
• Paid fellowships and residencies that allowed schools to establish their own pipeline of future instructors.

Increasing teachers’ pay was often needed to gain buy-in for their taking on added work and new responsibilities. Some schools stretched their student-to-teacher ratios to make teachers eligible for higher pay, while others brought lower-paid support staffers, trainee teachers, and volunteer tutors into the classroom to shoulder some of the duties.

“The organizational inertia of traditional staffing arrangements may take some time to change,” the report noted. “But as schools like these produce strong results and then refine and codify their practices, more schools across the country will have the will and the means to follow in their footsteps.”

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