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Conversation on Improving Teachers and Teaching with Ellen Moir, The New Teacher Center, and Bryan Hassel, Public Impact

October 10, 2012

Kate Hovde, Senior Analyst

One of the great pleasures and privileges of working at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy is talking with committed, smart people, including donors and staff for many of the terrific non-profits they help to support. We recently interviewed two leading thinkers and practitioners about their work to improve teaching quality. Read the full interview here.

Ellen Moir is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of New Teacher Center, a national organization working to improve student learning by accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers and school leaders.  She is a recent recipient of a Skoll Foundation award for social entrepreneurs, and is also an Ashoka Fellow. New Teacher Center was profiled (pgs. 21-23) in the Center’s High Impact Philanthropy to Improve Teaching Quality report. 

Bryan Hassel is the Co-Director of Public Impact, an organization whose mission is to help dramatically improve learning outcomes for all children in the U.S., with a special focus on students who are not served well.  Bryan has written extensively on a range of education topics, including the evolving role of technology. Public Impact employs a team of researchers, thought leaders, tool-builders, and on-the-ground consultants who work with leading education reformers.

Both organizations are also partners along with the Center in 100Kin10, a national effort to recruit, train and retain more high-quality teachers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

Here are five questions we asked:

  1. Both your organizations are focused on improving teaching, as a primary means for improving student outcomes.  What do you think the balance should be between improving the skills of the average teacher, versus extending the reach of truly excellent teachers?
  2. There are aspects of both your organizations’ work that could be characterized as “scarcity leading to innovation.”  I am thinking in particular of Public Impact’s work on an Opportunity Culture for teachers and NTC’s e-Mentoring for Student Success program.  Can you talk a little about the how and why these programs came about?
  3. What role do you see technology playing in your work going forward?
  4. What about the relative lack of a research or evidence base about what works with regard to digital learning?  How do you think about this as practitioners?
  5. How has philanthropic capital contributed to your work thus far (this does not need to be limited to money)?  Where do you see philanthropic capital playing an important role in moving both your work and your broader agenda forward?

You can find their answers here on our website. We were particularly struck by both organizations’ drive to find creative solutions to long-standing problems, innovative but careful approaches to employing technology, and clear perspectives on how philanthropy can play a critical role in developing, testing, and scaling new ideas and approaches. Your thoughts and reactions are welcome!

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