Leading Educators’ CEO Chong-Hao Fu joined Education Talk Radio to talk about ways districts can build on teachers’ strengths to accelerate equity in schools. We pulled out some of the can’t miss moments from the conversation.
1) Strong curricula grants access to critical knowledge.
“This is about access to college preparatory rigorous work and access is inequitably distributed, particularly based on race.”
About 90% of teachers report using resources from Pinterest and Google, and they spend about four hours per week doing so. That’s because teachers don’t believe the curricula they have are meeting the needs of their students.
We owe it to teachers to equip them with the very best possible tools for their work, and that includes rich and educative curricula. With the rise of high-rated open-source curricula, schools have a huge opportunity to adopt great instructional materials that get students excited to learn to high levels. Teachers make materials meaningful with their creativity and careful planning, but we owe it to teachers to give them reliable resources.
2) Teachers can have an incredible influence on their peers.
“If I wanted to get better as a teacher, I had to apprentice myself to the master teachers where I was teaching.”
The best teacher for a teacher is often another teacher. When given the opportunity to collaborate with peers and to observe skilled teachers in action, teachers build an understanding of best practice. By creating structures that give teachers the time and space to learn and plan together, spreading strategies that are having impact in isolation, we can ensure that every student is getting the best lesson those teachers could plan together.
3) Creating the time for consistent collaboration is a key priority.
“What are the conditions that need to be in place at the school to set up teachers for success so they can be successful for students? Chief among them is collaborative time.”
School leaders and teachers are hungry for meaningful collaboration time, but it can feel impossible to find consistent time at all.
In fact, many schools have implemented creative solutions to find the time. Sometimes it involves stacking smaller chunks of time together into an uninterrupted period, aligning district and school schedules to protect “sacred” time for adult learning, or rethinking staffing structures. There are sample schedules and concrete models for innovative leaders to start from. Our partners at Tulsa Public Schools and Education Resource strategies have used some promising approaches.
4) An equity strategy has to account for the personal and the institutional.
“There was only a brief period when schools were truly integrated[…] There are two systems that continue to exist with very different resources available to students[...] Equity is about ensuring all students are successful and get what they need.”
Chong-Hao noted three key ways leaders should think about promoting equity. First, every student needs access to strong content that is preparing them to succeed in college, career, and life beyond school. Access to strong content should be consistent from classroom to classroom, school to school.
Second, leaders must take time to talk about identity, bias, and antiracism. Systems have been inequitable for a long time, so it is essential that we examine how inequity shows up in leadership.
Finally, we have to examine how inequity shows up at the system level. We need to have honest and important conversations about how resources are allocated and how we can open lines of dialogue across identity and background.