Like a Profession, or Something
The specifics could be adjusted elsewhere, but the general attitude that Julia Steiny describes at Blackstone Valley Preparatory Charter School, although there’s no revolutionary “paradigm change,” as the education academics like to contrive, seems like a profound shift. Note, especially, the handling of the teaching professionals:
… at Blackstone Valley the two-teacher classroom [with more students] is the beginning of a leadership-development continuum designed to grow each teacher’s responsibility, autonomy, compensation and personal goals. New or “fellow” teachers plan and teach, but also learn alongside an experienced “lead” teacher. As lead teachers become even more practiced, they might become grade leaders for common planning time, or run professional development, or research a new technique and teach it to the others. Eventually, master teachers could become a Head of School. …
So everyone in the organization has goals. Chiappetta says, “Some of our people want to be lifelong classroom teachers, so we’ll support them becoming master teachers. Others say, ‘I want to go to med school in a few years and be a pediatrician, with teaching experience under my belt.’ Right now, three teachers leave early to take classes for their graduate degrees, and make up the time on Saturdays. We want to help you invest in yourself and move forward.”
Gone is the rigid put-in-your-time factory model of public schools in general. At least by the impression that Steiny gives, the school hires the best candidate for each position, and being human beings, they’re each potentially approaching the job from different backgrounds and with different plans. The administrators keep the project on track and are accountable for their results, because if their faculty doesn’t succeed, students won’t sign up.