Newark Public Schools

Case Study: Teacher Training

We use it everywhere. We use it to train teachers on how to get students to come to attention without demanding that they come to attention. We even use it in gym class and music class. We have had 100% participation in the training program with Practice. The platform is amazing. It’s easy to navigate through and teacher friendly.

Sherise Griffin

Elementary School Teacher, Newark Public Schools

Newark Public Schools captures and shares best practices

The Challenge

Newark Public Schools, like many public schools with limited resources, struggled with finding ways to engage and develop their novice teachers. These teachers were the foundation of the schools’ staff and without much formalized professional development, NPS had become one of the lowest performing districts in the State of New Jersey. The district had a strong desire to utilize the expertise of more experienced teachers in their own professional development, while also engaging the entirety of the staff.

NEWARK PUBLIC SCHOOLS CASE STUDY

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The Need

Newark Public Schools has devoted over $100M and significant energy to radically changing its legacy as one of the lowest performing districts in the State of New Jersey. The district made developing strong instructional teams a cornerstone of its reform effort, and in 2012 introduced a new Framework for Effective Teaching, which forms the basis for the district’s teacher evaluation process. Newark’s new process relies on goal setting, frequent observations and actionable feedback to improve teacher performance.

The Solution

At two Newark elementary schools, Camden Street School and Chancellor Avenue, the teachers announced that wanted to take the Framework one step further. They wanted to use their own master teachers to coach novices and support a cycle of continuous improvement across the district. They applied for a grant to use Practice from the Foundation for Newark’s Future, stating:

“We want to practice our craft more. We want to observe ourselves to improve our craft. We want to observe the great talent that resides within our school and District walls. We want feedback from great mentors. We want to talk to each other about our craft. But it is difficult to do. Why? We don’t have enough time. We don’t have body doubles. We don’t have enough money. We discovered an innovative web-based platform that will allow us to do all of these things at scale and at low cost. We are hoping it will unlock great growth within our teachers and even greater student achievement. With a population of over 44% special needs students at Camden and over 30% special needs students at Chancellor, we have chosen to do this project to bring attention and visibility to otherwise undocumented accounts of our successful efforts during the school year, as well. The hard work and dedication of our teachers can be outlined in this project and communicated to the community at large through the use of powerful and instructional videos that demonstrate best practices.”

PRACTICE BENEFITS

Camden Street Schools’ Principal, Sam Garrison, brought Practice into his school to help scale the work of the best teachers. “Practice allows us to meet the goals in our Framework for Effective Teaching. We can break training down according to specific competencies, like progress to mastery, and easily allow other teachers to give each other feedback.

  • Teachers would often watch videos multiple times to identify small, yet meaningful changes that they could make to improve their performance.

  • Peer review gave teachers an opportunity to practice constructive responses to each other.

    Peer review also built a sense of community across schools.

  • Practice’s standardized prompt allowed the district to compare performance across teachers.

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