When we focus on teachers, students succeed. When students succeed, society succeeds.
Though it is decidedly unfair, your zip code can have a tremendous impact on your chances of success. The path for success or failure begins with education. Not every student has the same opportunity to succeed. Poorer students and students of color have for many years performed behind other students. For example in Minnesota where I live, 70% of white students achieve proficiency in math and reading on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments. However, only about a third of black, Hispanic and Native American students were proficient.
There is a problematic paradox in education. Low-income and minority students need high-quality teachers the most. And yet, new teachers and administrators are often placed in high-need schools. This leads to frustration and discouragement. Fifty percent of teachers leave the profession in the first three to five years.
The New Teacher Center increases the effectiveness of teachers and school leaders by using a mentoring model. They have created a series of programs that address teacher induction, instructional coaching and school leadership development. They provide high-quality mentoring, common planning time and ongoing support for and from school leaders. NTC involves the community to ensure there is ongoing district support and financial support.
There was nothing in Ellen Moir’s story that would have predicted her success in supporting teachers. Her mother did not graduate from high school. Her father barely graduated. But she had a high school Spanish teacher that encouraged her to consider teaching as a career.
In the 1990s, she was directing teacher education at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She told me, “I saw a problem. I saw that, the best the brightest of our students, when they went out to teach, were wanting to quit. They were so disappointed between what they thought they could do and what they could do.”
Ellen started New Teacher Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1998. They remained at the university until they launched a non-profit in 2009. Today, they work in 200 school districts, utilizing 8,000 mentors who work with 40,000 teachers to reach millions of students.
About 61% of their funding comes from contracts with school districts and federal dollars. The balance of their funding comes through philanthropy.
Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Ellen Moir
“Even the best of teacher preparation models are simulated experiences.”
“When you get hired into a school district, you often are given the key to the classroom or a sink or swim experience.”
“Eleven percent of black students and nine percent of Latino students attend schools where more than one fifth of the educators are in their first year of teaching.”
“We’re looking at the top 200 school districts in America with the largest number of students, and we’re working on targeting in those districts, the most underserved communities.”
“There is no role more important than being a teacher.”
“We’re strong advocates for teacher leadership roles in districts.”
“Students of New Teacher Center supported teachers in grades four through eight, demonstrated three to five months of additional learning in reading.”
“We can help all kids be on the path to excellence early.”
“We’ve worked really hard over the years to not be a vendor.”
“I’m a teacher. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be running an organization.”
“Educators are leery of people who are selling to school districts.”
“How do you take a capacity-building model and grow it?”
“There was a buzz that new teachers looked like third year teachers when they got this kind of support.”
“Think about how to you galvanize a community around the kinds of interventions you’re thinking about.”
“For this innovation, we needed the whole community behind it.”
“That first couple of years, we were like mini researchers.”