For several years, I taught secondary Mathematics and Physics in large and small urban school systems, first working with low performing and economically disadvantaged students and later in an environment with all talented and gifted students. Subsequently, I worked as an educational coach helping students achieve success through mentoring teachers and delivering professional development training. With this background as both an urban educator and teacher leader, I have been afforded the unique opportunity to see first-hand the breadth of many educational divides as well as potential strategies for success in the urban setting. After 15 years in education, I am concerned about the fact we have not witnessed more dramatic changes in urban school systems in addressing issues with the culture of poverty, achievement gaps, dropout rates, the scarcity of funding and resources, as well as the lack of effective teacher preparedness.
Urban education research reveals that few teacher education programs concentrate on urban teacher preparation and that most of the high-quality teachers are more likely to work in more affluent suburban school systems leaving a deficit of highly skilled teachers to address high-need urban schools. This leaves me to wonder what should be done with the remaining urban teachers to improve their instructional practices. Now that I am at the executive director level of a school district, I can more clearly see the need for systemic investment in different models of teacher development. To this end, I am interested in how models of educational coaching could be utilized to scale up teaching expertise, increase achievement of students in high-need urban schools, and close its educational divides.
Preparing New Teachers for Success in Urban Schools
Carla Jackson and the team at Urban Teachers shared an evidence-based approach to solving this issue in the Baltimore and D.C. area. Here (http://www.totransformteaching.org/preparing-new-teachers-for-success-in-urban-schools/) is yet one example of teacher leaders trying to utilize coaching to better prepare urban educators. The ideas look promising and I would love to see more schools systems take similar approaches to address teacher preparation.