Getting Ready for the 2022-23 School Year
Guest post by Nancia Sterling,
Chief of Schools at New Schools for New Orleans
The temperatures are rising in our city, students are learning in summer camps, and teachers and leaders from 24 New Orleans public schools are getting ready to participate in the fourth year of professional development “hubs” and collaboratives, sponsored by New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO). Hubs are professional learning communities that bring teachers and leaders together across the city around centralized topics such as Special Education or English language learners. They were initially started because teachers wanted a way to connect, share examples, and learn from each other as they implemented new, “Tier 1” curriculum in their schools. “Tier 1” curriculum is the highest-quality, best-aligned materials available to our schools, identified by the Louisiana Department of Education.
We know that continuous professional development allows our teachers to grow in their instructional practice which results in positive academic achievement for all students. Over the past few years, NSNO has dedicated resources to fund professional development that public schools across the city can access for free. Earlier this year, school leaders and educators communicated their instructional needs and NSNO’s Schools Team responded by working directly with high-quality vendors to offer the following hubs for the 2022-23 school year:
The 2022-23 school year looks promising for in-person learning, for students as well as educators. During the height of the pandemic, hubs, like students’ classes, went virtual. While virtual hubs allowed the opportunity for more teachers and leaders to participate, educators missed the in-person collaboration and networking.
This year all hubs will launch in-person, starting with the Literacy Collaborative, which includes both the Foundational and Intermediate levels. This first cohort, which consists of educators across fifteen schools and seven charter management organizations, will meet the week of July 11th to delve into content that bridges the gap between theory and practice of the science of reading. They will go in-depth with the curriculum that is the instructional vehicle that allows students to learn how to read. In 2021, only 24% of the city’s 3rd graders demonstrated Mastery in English / Language Arts (ELA), compared to 39% of students across Louisiana. We know it’s critical to get our students caught up and the Literacy Collaborative is one way that teachers are tackling this challenge. Over the next eight months, each of our hubs and collaboratives will meet several times to learn together, share best practices, and strengthen skills they bring to their classrooms everyday.
In addition to planning these year-round hubs for our educators, the NSNO Schools Team continues to focus on the Instructional Quality Initiative (IQI), a project with the Louisiana Department of Education that increases the number of New Orleans public schools using aligned, Tier 1 curriculum for ELA, math and science. The ultimate goal is to increase student proficiency in those core subjects for K-12 students. The first step of the project was to provide access for schools to purchase and acquire Tier 1 curriculum. The Schools Team is now in the ongoing phase of supporting teachers in the curriculum implementation process. The Schools team is currently developing a multi-year strategic plan for IQI after getting input from CMO and single-site instructional leaders this spring. The Schools team hosted leaders from across the city in May and early June to gain insight into the types of academic support that will be needed during this post-COVID era.
We know our educators and school leaders work incredibly hard each day to improve the lives of our students and to make sure each child is getting the quality education they deserve. The NSNO Schools team looks forward to continuing to support them in the key priority area of curriculum and instruction and we’re thrilled to kick-off the 2022-23 school year preparation over the next few weeks!