December 02, 2021
Opportunity Culture Schools Create Growth for Students - and Teachers!
Collaborative program has grown six-fold in three years
“The more adults that show time, compassion and instruction, the better students will flourish. Love isn’t always a hug – sometimes it’s extra work, a motivational push or a consequence – but the more that teachers work together, the more love we have to go around.”
- David Carey, Multi-Classroom Leader in Opportunity Culture at Holabird Academy.
Collaboration, encouragement, guidance, and support are pivotal for growth. When educators collaborate, students benefit. Two years ago, City Schools launched Opportunity Culture to help educators do just that. Since then, this unique program has expanded exponentially — from three Opportunity Culture Schools in 2019 to 20 this school year, now impacting 7,000 City Schools students supported by the collaboration of more than 150 educators. And several more City Schools principals are currently exploring bringing this program to their schools.
Opportunity Culture looks at school staffing differently by placing high-performing educators in leadership positions to collaborate, coach, support a small team of teachers, and extend excellent instruction to more students. These Multi-Classroom Leaders provide guidance, co-teaching, observation and feedback, best-practice modeling, instruction to students, and weekly coaching.
For example, some groups may discuss innovative ways to encourage student participation in class. Others may explore integrating the arts in instruction to engage students differently. No matter the discussions, they’re all intended to ensure students are getting the high quality education they deserve.
In the process of Opportunity Culture, school cultures are changing: responsibilities are expanded as the school culture becomes teacher-led and a learning environment for everyone in the school community. And student performance is benefitting; at Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School, Opportunity Culture has helped spur consistently rising test scores in math and English language arts. At Holabird Academy, more than 90% of students experience collaborative teaching thanks to Opportunity Culture, and their scores are steadily rising. And at Cecil Elementary School, students are boasting the highest math scores in its Community Learning Network.
Our Opportunity Culture team at the district works directly with schools to implement Opportunity Culture. Beyond the framework for the initiative, this often includes defining staffing structures and providing guidance on budgeting by exploring these nontraditional approaches to teaching. The team works with school leaders to identify ideal Multi-Classroom Leader candidates and supports the process of building out Opportunity Culture at a given school.
Educators are also seeing the benefit of the program. As David Carey at Holabird Academy puts it, “The Opportunity Culture program has pushed me to continually reflect, improve and build relationships. My Multi-Classroom Leader position has allowed me to push myself out of my comfort zone, reach more students than ever before and collaborate with colleagues as a mentor.”
There are additional benefits to the program: it helps motivate and retain teachers by giving them new professional development experiences and because leadership responsibilities become shared, principals find time to focus on their additional responsibilities.
To learn more about Opportunity Culture, visit www.baltimorecityschools.org/development-teachers.