We believe that the people closest to the challenges in their profession are the ones best suited to solve them. In addition to the procedures outlined in the FCTA, FASSE, and FCASA negotiated agreements, employees at the Frederick Classical Charter School will have an additional informal mechanism to resolve concerns and make suggestions. The school will employ General Electric’s Work-Out process to empower employees to identify problems and unleash their creativity, energy, and expertise to develop and implement solutions. The point of Work-Out is not to create an additional formal, top-down bureaucratic process for resolving issues, but to encourage an informal, simple, fast, and employee-led way of operating that respects the fact that the people closest to the issues are more likely to have the knowledge to resolve them.
Valuable Professional Development, Not Fads
Our extensive professional development will be given by the best in their fields, and provide practical training based on mainstream education research and cognitive science that makes a real difference for students. We plan to create a Summer Institute and in-service training that also meets Maryland certification requirements, so that the time spent in professional development helps teachers maintain their credentials. Though our teacher satisfaction survey we'll continually improve the professional development offerings so that teachers get training that is useful to them. We plan to build the school's capacity to deliver professional development, transitioning from using external consultants for professional development in the first few years to developing in-house trainers whose expertise is sought at the school, county, and, eventually, national levels.
Focus on Students
Our school regards well-written and well-delivered lesson plans as the heart and soul of improving education. In subjects where research-based lesson plans are available, we provide them to teachers so that they can spend less time planning lessons and more time helping students. In areas where validated lessons are not available, we'll provide teachers with resources from which lessons can be developed, and give them support over a period of several years to complete a full set of field-tested lesson plans that can be adjusted to meet students' needs.
First, I'd never heard of GE Work-Out, but I'm glad to see it's there. My experience has been that top-down management doesn't work well in public schools absent a total school reform like DI (pdf file), where you have a validated curriculum and you want every teacher to be teaching that curriculum well. In that case you have two tiers of management: the principal and the DI trainers.
My own district has been bulking up administration for years now and plans to carry on bulking up by hiring 'instructional coaches.' Throughout this period, we've seen no gains in student achievement, a fact that administration recently acknowledged.
I've become convinced that Richard DuFour's "professional learning communities" are the way to go in public schools. "PLCs" are not hierarchical; nor does a school that is organized around PLCs grow the administration. So I'm thinking Frederick Classical Charter School is on the right track.
Have any of you -- teachers, parents, everyone -- had a different experience of hierarchy and authority working well inside public (or private/parochial) schools?
Second, I wonder how teachers will be evaluated in this school -- and whether there is a reason why they haven't mentioned linking teacher evaluations to student achievement.
Third, research-based lesson plans --- wow!