learn / 2016
Collaborative Teacher Project: igniting curiosity through innovative classrooms & teacher mentoring
Please describe your project proposal.
High quality education starts with teachers who have specialized training in early education and access to engaging and thought provoking learning materials. Our goal is to bring these resources to underprivileged communities who lack both. We are piloting our program at 4 LAUSD Title 1 sites and hope to extend our support of these classrooms through May 2017, as well as expand our mentoring project to 4 more at-risk LA schools by the end of the 2017-18 school year.
Which of the learn metrics will your proposal impact?
- Early education
In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- East LA
- South LA
Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to learn?
While LA is rich in diversity, a great disparity exists between the early education offered in middle and upper-socio-economic communities and those in less advantaged communities. Compounding the problem, the State’s new mandate that Transitional Kindergartens (TK) be offered throughout California’s public schools has resulted in elementary school teachers without adequate training in early childhood education staffing classrooms with 4 and 5-year-olds. Consequently, California children are subjected to curriculum that is inappropriate for their developmental level, setting them up for early failure and burn-out at a time when they are defining themselves as learners. This has been a great setback for children in low income communities where scripted lessons that fail to measure the dispositions needed for school and life success take precedence over creative experiences and engaging intellectual challenges. Our goal is to support classrooms that nurture tenacity, curiosity, flexibility, creative thinking, and democratic values that provide children with the best preparation for academic success and responsible citizenry.
The Collaborative Teacher Project (CTP) directly addresses LA’s economic gap by bringing innovative programs to LA’s most at risk public schools. We begin by connecting master teachers with public elementary school teachers who often lack the resources or exposure to more creative, child-centered approaches. Together with parents, teachers and community volunteers, we refurbish the TK classrooms, transforming them into environments that enable children to interact, reflect, analyze and create together. During the months that follow, CTP mentors work side by side with the TK teachers in their classrooms – mentoring, modelling and inspiring deeply reflective teacher practices.
Our project is based on the strong affirmation that ALL children, regardless of economic or geographic considerations, possess an innate desire to make meaning in the world, and thus should be provided with quality early learning experiences that nurture their creativity, curiosity and wonder. We know that quality early childhood education can change the trajectory of a child’s life. But who is to provide this quality? Teachers, of course. Yet so many teachers lack support and training. With the help of LA2050 we can right this wrong. Let’s give teachers the support they need so they can indeed change the trajectory of a child’s life, not just in affluent neighborhoods, but everywhere. Now is the time to guarantee that ALL children have access to the level of quality it takes to really make a difference! With the help of 2050, LA can lead the way in ensuring that young children are curious, engaged learners.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
The Pedagogical Institute’s evaluation tools for this Collaborative Teacher Project measure the shift away from the traditional academic pedagogy used now by K-12 teachers and towards developmentally appropriate practice and play-based learning more appropriate for younger children. We measure: 1) children’s intellectual, social and critical thinking skills; 2) development of teachers’ reflective skills to assess learning; and 3) Principals’ perspectives.
The Teachers are asked to complete a scaled survey of 26 questions and 3 open-ended questions every month to capture change over time. The questions are designed to evaluate elements of the Pianta et al. CLASS evaluation system, e.g., around children’s independence in the learning environment, critical thinking, and opportunities for extended conversation with teacher and peers.
The teachers also complete a 60 page portfolio of photographs, video footage, dialogue, and examples of children’s theory development. These portfolios document both the teacher’s and the children’s learning over time. The finished product is a multi-media record of the teacher’s journey in implementing new teaching practices. It highlights the teacher’s role in nurturing children’s independence, curiosity, and development.
How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?
- Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles etc.)
- Network/relationship support