July 08, 2015 14:41 Age: 3 yrs

Developing Talent: Enabling Our Teachers to Grow Rapidly Creates Better Schools

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Doug McCurry is the co-CEO and Superintendent of Achievement First.

As I’ve been helping regional superintendents and school leaders get ready for next year, a few interesting insights have emerged. I’m noticing that schools that have a strong track record of success articulate and live out a clear message:  We must get better fast.

I’ve heard some leaders say that they have solid vision documents or a broad picture of excellence but are not getting the results they want. My observation is that these plans are not coupled with a belief that teachers and deans can and must get better fast.

In order for change to happen rapidly, the following must be in place:


  • A clear written vision, deep alignment and practice among the school’s leaders
  • Strong training and practice of teachers
  • Real-time coaching and debrief meetings
  • Data capture and sharing of teacher moves and student outcomes
  • Extra practice for folks who are struggling
  • A belief that they can and must win

In short, believe that teachers can rapidly improve, and put structures in place to ensure it.

At Achievement First, we know that if we can do this as a network – become a rapid talent development engine – it will transform our schools. Folks who get better fast are happier and drive better results. As great impact, a much stronger teaching force and leadership team creates a much more sustainable environment.

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