We have always been focused on developing and supporting our teachers. Over the last few years we have been able to focus even more on differentiated and effective supports for our teachers. We believe that it takes 10,000 hours to become an effective teacher. We also believe that teachers must be happy, satisfied, and feel effective to want to put in those hours of practice.
Programs for Teachers
Aspire Public Schools' best asset is a strong team. We know that having a high quality teacher in every classroom is the best way to close the achievement gap for traditionally underserved students. Developing expert practitioners requires a variety of programs. Many programs at Aspire are supported by our Instructional Coaches – all former outstanding teachers themselves. Instructional Coaches bring grade level and content expertise to their interactions with teachers.
Aspire supports the development of our teachers in a variety of ways. Here, we highlight a few of them:
Aspire is authorized as our own induction program to provide beginning teacher support. We pair each new teacher with an Instructional Coach who helps them, over the course of two years, meet the requirements to clear their preliminary credential. The Coach and new teacher work on six standards for the teaching profession and present a portfolio for review.
Aspire's Induction Program aims for every teacher to be a reflective practitioner – a teacher whose habit it is, at the end of every day, week, month, semester and year, to ask, “What worked? What didn’t work? What can I do about that?” By asking these three questions and acting on their insights, teachers will ensure that all students are learning and growing along the California Content Standards. Moreover, they themselves will be learning and growing along the Aspire Instructional Rubric.
Many former induction candidates go on to become Instructional Coaches at their school sites, continuing our practice of supporting and growing our teachers’ expertise.
Each school at Aspire has an instructional leadership team made up of the principal and a lead teacher from each grade level or subject area. The leadership teams work together to determine the yearly objectives and goals for the school. Aspire brings our leadership teams from each school together once a year in the summer, and regionally in the winter.
Teachers who are selected as lead teachers are skilled in the following areas:
- Masters and Models of the Aspire Instructional Guidelines
- Building teams by developing relationships, systems, and rituals
- Planning meetings around problem-solving
- Developing data driven instruction by implementing Cycles of Inquiry
- Collaborating in developing or strengthening lesson plans and/or providing feedback through observations
With the structure of lead teachers we hope to develop our educators to know:
- They are recognized as someone who should be influencing a larger sphere than their immediate classroom.
- They have been entrusted with the well-being of the children in their team’s classrooms, as well as the children throughout the school building, and, beyond that, with the forward movement of this organization.
- They make decisions based on what they believe and what the data suggests will best advance all students’ learning.
Mentors in the Aspire Teacher Residency Program
Teachers who have been with Aspire for at least three years can apply to become a mentor teacher. Mentors are matched with a resident for one year to provide support and help develop the resident teacher's practice. Residents spend 4 days a week in the mentor’s classroom. Mentors help the resident incorporate all aspects of daily instruction & assessmentinto their teaching.
Most schools have a “data driver” – a teacher who works with colleagues from across the region and virtually from across all of Aspire to learn how to access and utilize the variety of data sets available to teachers.
A teacher who has taught with Aspire for a number of years may become a model teacher. Model teachers work one-on-one with five teachers per year through the following rotation:
- Visiting teacher observes you for one school day
- Visiting teacher writes a lesson based on some insights from his/her visit to your room
- Model teacher reviews and provides feedback on the lesson plan
- Model teacher reviews student work and data from the visiting teacher’s lesson in a debrief conversation with the visiting teacher
- Model teacher remains available online and by phone to support the visiting teacher throughout that year
For our work on Teacher Effectiveness, Aspire has developed an online resource tool for teachers we call the Purple Planet. Found on the Purple Planet are various pieces of evidence a teacher could access to illustrate the Aspire Instructional Rubric in practice. To fuel this content stream, we videotape excellent teachers, or ‘Aspire Video Teachers.’
Aspire Video Teachers
Aspire Video Teachers allow a professional videographer to videotape 2-3 hours of their teaching on a given day. The teachers work with the teacher effectiveness team and videographer to plan the session in advance. The teacher writes a lesson plan and other supporting documents (handouts, PPTs, assessments, etc) for recorded lesson. Then, they provide brief commentary on that instruction, in writing or on camera.
Below is a sample of the resource we have developed featuring some of our Aspire Video Teachers:
"As a first year teacher at Aspire, the coaches have been critical to my own learning and teaching my students. I came to Aspire because of the focus on developing highly effective teachers, and the coaches reinforce this every day."
- Aspire Teacher