When I became executive director of high school education at Gaston County Schools three years ago, our student achievement was average when compared to other districts in North Carolina. That wasn’t good enough for us, but we also recognized that improving achievement, particularly at the high school level, is very difficult work.
We serve about 32,000 students at 55 schools, a diverse and economically challenged population in which approximately 62% qualify for free and reduced lunch. We have always had pockets of excellence happening inside our classrooms, but we needed to find a way to get those “pockets” occurring in 100% of our classrooms.
You can't keep doing the same thing and expect different results, but how do you get 700 teachers to buy into a new set of ideas? We started by taking a hard look at how we were supporting teacher development, and how we could improve.
Focusing on the best second- and third-year teachers
We have a nationally recognized Teacher Induction Program for Success (TIPS) that has been in place for the last 15 years. TIPS brings first-year teachers in before school starts for three days of professional development. New teachers meet the superintendent, the board attorney for the school system, the board of education chair and various other central decision-makers. They also work with curriculum facilitators, going over topics such as how to build a lesson, how to manage a classroom and various other components of instruction.
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