Educator Practices and Pathways

Educator effectiveness and leadership can be activated through articulated teaching pathways that develop the relevant knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Teaching training pathways include the following milestones:

  • P-12 student: The future educator, with a focus on future educators of color, is engaged in the school community (i.e., is not systematically excluded through poor school design and implementation, including excessive and/or discriminatory use of suspension as a disciplinary practice) and achieves student pathway milestones
  • Educator employment preparation: The future educator receives a hands-on, context-based training in subject-matter content, curriculum-informed pedagogy, and cultural competence
  • Employment induction: The newly hired educator receives mentoring and other supports from the employer, educator colleagues, and education service providers;
  • Post-employment growth: The experienced educator participates in ongoing learning experiences that are high quality and relevant, typically organized around educator collaboration, and typically focused on learning standards, curriculum, ongoing assessment, and student work exemplars.

Educator pathways are more likely to succeed when they are anchored in demand and are coordinated and coherent. For example, a coordinated educator pathway progresses from high school student to college student to employed educator, where the individual earns “stackable” credentials along the way, with inflection points at the awarding of a diploma and at points of hire, tenure, and other employment milestones. Each of the relevant parties (future educator, employer, preparation program, government) makes fiscal investments along the course of an integrated pathway.

Curriculum is the comprehensive set of instructional materials available for use by teachers with their students and families, which, if the curriculum is of high quality, allow learning standards and high expectations to come alive in the instructional context, often with such student-centered features as alignment to standards; cultural and real-world relevance; asynchronous learning that leverages technology and higher-order teacher expertise; scaffolds and supports for struggling learners; problem- and project-based hands-on activities; opportunities for creativity, production, choice, collaboration, and social/emotional growth; as well as ongoing assessment of mastery and progress.

Strong public and private sector organizations have mechanisms for “research and development,” or the development and implementation of improvements in the way products and services are designed, produced, and/or delivered. In the education sector, a crucial component of “research and development” includes allocating time for educators, working individually or in groups, to design new instructional approaches based on learning standards, past evidence and practice; try out these new approaches; review the evidence of effectiveness, including student work exemplars; improve promising practices and quickly discard failures. It is important to note that innovations in educator practice can occur only in the context of trust. People who are afraid do not risk failure. This does not mean that teachers and schools cannot or should not be held accountable for results, only that innovative practice (and the associated risk of failure) must be viewed as part of the core repertoire of excellent teachers in excellent schools.