The most important factor in the quality of a school is the quality of the school’s educators—our teachers, counselors, instructional assistants, coaches, and school leaders. Nothing matters more in terms of your child’s learning opportunities than the quality of their teachers. That is why our most important focus is on how we attract and retain talented teachers and help them grow professionally in the extraordinarily complex profession of teaching.
We are grateful to our teachers for their commitment, care, and professional quality. We are excited to share with you a major investment to better support our teachers and help them grow further in their teaching practice. Beginning next school year, we will pilot a focused effort to improve the coaching and feedback our teachers receive and to strengthen teacher teams. In doing so, we will build on our high functioning teacher teams, known as Professional Learning Communities or “PLCs”.
In six to ten PLCs next year, we will give PLC leads release time to facilitate learning and feedback opportunities for all teachers on their teams. These team leads will be known as professional learning community coaches. When a PLC coach is not teaching, their role will be filled not by a substitute but by a full-time teacher assigned to that class.
These PLC coaches will maintain a part-time teaching role and will then drive team learning, facilitate peer-to-peer learning, and offer feedback to teachers on their teams in their other half of the day. A PLC coach is uniquely positioned to facilitate this type of learning because they have one foot firmly in the classroom, experiencing the same challenges as those they are leading. These individuals have fostered trust within their teams and have the subject-matter expertise relevant to the work their teams do.
We are excited about the impact these coaches will have on the learning experience for our students. Studies conducted by the Aspen Institute and Bain & Company found that implementing this type of coaching model positively impacts student learning and organizational culture. Many other professions (from medicine to law to engineering) are very familiar with professional learning programs where professionals learn in the doing—by engaging in their practice, receiving feedback from someone who has expertise, and then having a chance to reflect and adjust. Speaking from personal experience, I have seen this type of teacher leadership and coaching model work very successfully at schools in the US and internationally.
SAS remains a coveted teaching destination among its peers. We receive roughly 60 applications for each open teaching position and many of these candidates represent the top tier of educators in their respective subjects. We are committed to continually investing in the growth and development of our educators.
We believe this focus on professional learning and teamwork will help us continue to elevate the learning experiences we offer inside each and every classroom here at SAS.