Supporting quality K12 education is one of the most important issues we all face. Whatever side you come out on in the debates around standardized testing, class size, charter schools, or common core, there’s one fact that we all should be able to agree on:
High-quality teaching is the greatest in-school influence on student engagement and outcomes.
My name is Megan Campion and, along with my Foundation colleagues and partners, we are on a mission to enable teachers everywhere to perform at their very best. I have been a teacher and team leader, I have managed a K12 nonprofit program, and I have managed research studies on teacher evaluation and professional development for public school districts. From these experiences, I have developed a strong belief that every teacher should have access to high-quality professional development opportunities. Too often, effective training and enrichment programs are limited to a small number of schools or districts because there is not an effective means of delivering these programs to other districts, even those in the same city or state. With the Foundation’s experience bringing DisasterReady to humanitarian aid workers and NonprofitReady to nonprofit professionals, we have the technology, resources, and expertise to make high quality training accessible to teachers everywhere. And if we bring the most effective programs to the teachers that need it most, the impact on student performance will be both immediate and significant.
When I was a teacher, my team was tasked with implementing project-based learning and a social emotional learning program in our school, and the only support offered was a one-day workshop at the beginning of the school year. However, research on effective teacher professional development shows that the one-time workshop model is not an effective way to change teachers’ practice or student learning. To be effective, teacher learning must have sufficient duration and implementation support to allow teachers to apply new practices, reflect on their experience, and refine their understanding and application. This more intensive approach places an economic burden on already cash-strapped districts and requires teachers to leave the classroom for extended periods of time to take part in these professional development communities.
Since our inception in 2010, the Foundation has partnered with a wide variety of nonprofits committed to improving the quality of K12 education. We have worked with various organizations that share our belief that professional development programs for teachers can have a transformative impact on student performance, but many of these nonprofits are also resource-constrained and lack the technology to reach teachers and students beyond their local communities.
We are building TeachingReady to help alleviate these constraints for both K12 schools and the nonprofits that seek to serve them. Through the Cornerstone learning management system, teachers everywhere will be able to take training on their own schedule and build professional learning communities of peers who are implementing the same practices, so they can benefit from group reflection on common challenges. For the nonprofits that have successful school-based programs on topics such as obesity reduction, tolerance training, conservation, bullying, and the common core, TeachingReady will provide the platform to bring these programs to even more educators and have a far greater impact on student performance. The good news is that these teacher training programs are in use today, and many of them are ready to be delivered through the Cornerstone learning system. When we launch TeachingReady later this year, these eLearning courses, live and recorded webinars, and other online learning resources will serve as the content engine for TeachingReady. And the teachers and school leaders who have already taken training with these nonprofits will serve as our initial group of learners.
I’m so excited to embark on this journey to bring TeachingReady to the millions of educators around the world. But I can’t do it alone. If you have a passion for education and would like to get involved in the rollout of TeachingReady, email me. We can’t solve all the issues around K12 education. But, together we can empower teachers to do what they do best – educate, enlighten, and inspire students for generations to come.