Engaging, motivated teachers are at the heart of every successful school. For schools like Rocketship, where 75% of teachers come from Teach for America, which recruits mostly recent college grads to commit to two years, finding ways to train and keep them becomes that much more of a priority.
What’s their strategy? First, they pay more than typical public schools – on average between 10 and 20 percent more, according to Judith McGarry, Rocketship’s spokesperson.
And since most of these teachers are “very young” — for many of them, it’s the first time teaching in a classroom – McGarry said teachers’ progress is tracked closely. Every eight-week assessment of students’ progress is compared to the teachers’ own eight-week assessments.
“We think that this constant feedback helps them ramp up really quickly,” McGarry said of new teachers. “So we do actually use student achievement and student testing as one measure of how we evaluate teachers’ effectiveness. But we don’t really have the problem that the Los Angeles School District did, because, first of all teachers walk in knowing this is how they’re going to get evaluated, and second, it’s one of multiple measures that we use for their effectiveness.”
Other measures include meeting regularly with the principal to work on their professional growth plans, collaborating closely with other teachers, and working with academic coaches. Sometimes classes are videotaped, so teachers and coaches can evaluate the way the class is run play-by-play, and sometimes educators wear microphones and earbuds to get live coaching while they teach.