The improvement of schools
Amidst all our work with the Common Core, Mass-Customized Learning, technology, proficiency-based education, and the collection and use of data, let’s not forget that the quality of human experiences in a school district is what ultimately determines the learning outcomes of the students.
Districts where the adults are satisfied professionally produce good learning results in children. All research leads to the conclusion that great teachers are the factor that makes the biggest positive difference in a student’s school life over time. Great teachers thrive in school districts that support them as professionals.
Our local money and attention should be spent creating the conditions teachers need to do their best work: sufficient time alone and with other teachers for thoughtful preparation of curriculum and lessons; a teaching load that allows for meaningful relations with children; a voice in decisions that impact what happens in the school; time and support for advanced study; respectful treatment from administrators and school board.
If the adults in a school are not supported professionally, then the students won't thrive. We can have all our ducks in order on paper — data, learning standards, technology — however in the end, if the child's teachers stagnate professionally because their needs are not met, then student outcomes will suffer.
The best way to better schools is to attend to the professional needs of the teachers.