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High Impact Philanthropy to Improve Teaching Quality: updates to our original “Blueprint”

July 14, 2010


Since releasing our Teaching Quality Blueprint in March, we have continued to learn about promising approaches to improving the teaching of high-need secondary students in the U.S. We’ve also learned a great deal about why some well-intentioned efforts fail to have impact. Much of this learning is thanks to input and collaboration from those of you working on these issues every day—folks such as education researchers, teachers, administrators, funders, nonprofit leaders, and policymakers. Thank you for informing and supporting this work.

As a result, we have updated our thinking and reorganized the way we are approaching the issue of improving teaching quality. We have restructured our investment guide around two key, mutually reinforcing opportunities:

  1. Improving individual teacher skills
  2. Improving the environment in which teachers work

These two opportunities served as over-arching objectives in our original blueprint, but now they have become the core structure for the guide, replacing the three sections we outlined in our original blueprint: improving early teacher training, improving human capital management and allocation, and improving teaching through whole school reform. We’ll still discuss these three ideas (and others); however, we’ll discuss them within the larger context of the two broad opportunities above.

In the first section of the guide, under improving individual teacher skills, we have identified three high impact intervention entry-points: 1) improving teacher preparation, 2) providing high quality training and support for new teachers, and 3) helping teachers continue to improve through ongoing professional development. In each of these three areas, there are high impact models that donors can support. Additionally, our discussion of ongoing professional development (PD) provides the perfect transition into a discussion about an enabling environment for teachers. What we’ve found is that providing meaningful PD for teachers requires having schools and school administrators who support and implement practices that foster teacher development. This is critical because many of the same environmental factors that enable teachers to improve are the same ones that allow for the greatest student learning.

In our discussion of the environment in which teachers work, we will discuss three important areas: 1) principal training and support, 2) whole school models that enable great teaching, and 3) the importance of policies at the district, state, and federal level that promote teaching quality. In the first two areas, we will give examples of high impact models that a donor can support. In the last section, we will discuss how donors can work hand-in-hand with policymakers to maximize impact.

We look forward to your continued input and collaboration and can’t wait to share our completed investment guide with you this coming fall. Stay tuned and stay in touch! Follow us on twitter: @ImpactTeaching

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 19, 2010 8:41 am

    I really like this approach, because building a solid infrastructure/foundation is one of the most important steps in addressing almost any type of problem, especially when working with students that need a little extra attention.

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