5 Keys to Transformation | Great Teaching & Learning | NEA Center for Great Public Schools

5 Keys to Transformation

To provide a top-quality education, schools, educators and communities must embrace five essential values that encourage constant learning, professional growth, and respect for each individual.

Passion for Learning

  • Every educator and every PreK-12 student is a learner. The culture must generate enthusiastic and meaningful participation, growth and learning for students and educators alike.
  • Each school/district faculty member is a learner and models a career-long commitment to reflection on practice, personal growth, and continuous improvement.
  • Teachers find a deep sense of fulfillment as students demonstrate mastery of skills and understanding.
  • Like student learning, teacher learning is built on a foundation that connects theory and the real world, focusing on the educator’s personal needs.

Assessment for Excellence

  • Assessment should be performance-based and authentically reflect the knowledge and skills being assessed.
  • Assessment reflects a shared understanding of what a teacher should know and be able to do, with a focus on teachers’ growth, not ticking boxes.
  • As with students, schools should support teachers’ continuous growth with multiple, bias-free, varied opportunities to demonstrate knowledge and skills.
  • Employee evaluation should arise from a locally bargained, evidence-based system of peer review linked to performance expectations supported by a strong system of professional development.
  • Assessment transcends mere accountability and builds on the individual’s passion for learning, encouraging a personal sense of mastery.

Culture of Collaboration

  • Teachers collaborative plan lessons and strategies to address individual student needs, and then co-teach, observe, and coach their peers.
  • External partners (e.g. higher education faculty) both learn from PreK-12 teachers and provide support to teachers as they improve their practice and help students learn.
  • PreK-12 schools and teacher training programs (TPPs) collaborate to design, implement, evaluate, and improve the quality of their programs.
  • The local community also collaborates through day-to-day engagement in the work of the school, providing richness to the cultural experience and understanding of students and teachers; helping to set goals and establish the school’s mission; investing in facilities, salaries, and instructional materials; and connecting businesses and community projects to student learning and service.

Authentic Autonomy

  • Individual autonomy is crucial to personal transformation and continuous learning as a professional, and critical for fostering a sense of ownership so that every person is deeply committed to transformation.
  • Teachers have authority at the classroom level to make significant decisions about curriculum design, teaching methods, and assessment strategies, versus being mandated to deliver prescribed programs.
  • As teachers have autonomy to make significant decisions about curriculum, teaching methods, and assessment, they extend to students the autonomy to select how they will pursue major learning goals and to determine how they can meaningfully demonstrate learning.

Worth of Persons and Communities

  • Decisions and actions of the system and individuals should convey a sense of worth and respect for each person: students, educators, higher education partners, families, and community members.
  • Faculty convey that they care for students as individuals and believe in their potential.
  • Adults in the school are on a continuous quest to understand more deeply the impact of race, culture, and societal and economic conditions on their own perceptions and the learning needs of students.
  • Teachers, schools, and districts partner with the community to ensure that schools are safe, supportive environments where individuals are valued, and their culture and heritage are respected and treated as assets.