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RELEASE: Great Teaching Takes Time—So Give Teachers More of It, Says TeachStrong Coalition

New TeachStrong coalition policy proposal recommends school districts and schools provide teachers with significantly more time, tools, and support to help them succeed, including through planning, collaboration, and development.

The TeachStrong campaign brings together more than 60 teachers unions, teacher voice organizations, and education reform, civil rights, and education policy leaders to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy issue of 2016.

Washington, D.C. — Teachers need significantly more time, tools, and support to succeed. In its newest policy proposal released today, the TeachStrong coalition said that schools and districts should re-imagine the school day and explore innovative scheduling options working in other schools and districts similar to their own. The TeachStrong proposal calls on schools and districts to provide teachers with sufficient time to plan and practice essential teaching skills—both alone and with their colleagues—in order to improve their instruction and, ultimately, student learning.

“This TeachStrong policy recognizes that giving teachers the tools, time, and trust they need to succeed is essential for strong schools and a healthy, respected teaching profession,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “While the TeachStrong coalition contains many voices and perspectives—and we don’t agree on everything—this proposal reflects a bedrock understanding that we need to shift away from blame-and-shame tactics toward empowering educators to use their skills, collaborate with colleagues, and engage with parents and communities for the sake of better student learning and development. So much evidence—whether data from the Teaching and Learning International Survey and the recent National Conference of State Legislators study of international best practices in education or examples such as the implementation of extended learning time in Meriden, Connecticuit, and the creativity and innovation in some of NYC’s PROSE schools—points us in this common-sense direction.”

The TeachStrong campaign is a coalition of leading education groups aimed at making modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy priority in 2016 so that students, especially those from low-income families, can be taught by great teachers. The campaign’s nine policy principles detail the need for comprehensive, systemic change to the teaching profession. To accomplish this goal, TeachStrong believes that we must invest in and develop policies that better recruit, prepare, support, and compensate teachers through all stages of their careers. The policy proposal released today emphasizes that teachers need additional resources—in the form of time, tools, and support—in order to provide excellent instruction for all students.

TeachStrong’s new policy proposal offers the following policy recommendations for states, school districts, and schools to consider when rethinking how to provide teachers with the time, tools, and support necessary to succeed:

  • Schools and districts should explore innovative scheduling options, possibly by using block scheduling, extending the school day, or varying class sizes in secondary schools.
  • Schools and districts should transfer away from the “one teacher, one classroom” model by creating more leadership opportunities for teachers; employing co-teaching models and teacher residencies; integrating technological solutions; or making use of other school professionals and volunteers.
  • States and districts should repurpose existing professional development funding to encourage more school-based collaborative learning time.

“Teachers are being asked to do more than ever before, but too often they are strapped for time,” said Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress. “We must provide teachers with the time, tools, and support that will allow them to plan rigorous lessons and collaborate with their colleagues to improve their instruction. The latest TeachStrong proposal calls for just that: a shift toward school schedules that afford teachers the time to advance as professionals and the tools and support to use that time well.”

“Generation Schools Network applauds the TeachStrong policy proposal on providing teachers with additional time, tools, and support,” said Wendy Loloff Piersee, Chief Executive Officer of Generation Schools Network. “We have demonstrated that schools that use time, talent, and resources in innovative ways can create learning environments that are simultaneously beneficial for all constituent groups: students, families, teachers, and the community. Every student wins when they learn from a highly skilled teacher who has the time and training to work with families and collaborate with colleagues.”

Today, TeachStrong also released a new video—part of its Story Project—in which TeachStrong ambassadors Ciana DeBellis of New York, Kyle Schwartz of Colorado, and Mike Lerchenfeldt of Michigan discuss how more time, tools, and support would ultimately improve their instruction and benefit their students. Click here to watch the video.

The TeachStrong campaign has also released policy proposals on recruiting excellent and diverse teacher candidates, reimagining teacher preparation, raising the bar for licensure, and providing new teachers with more support. Throughout 2016, TeachStrong will release additional policy proposals as part of the effort to make modernizing and elevating the teaching profession the top education policy priority of 2016.

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