Rowing Together

At Achievement First, talented, dedicated educators work together toward each school's shared vision of excellence. Walking the hallways, one finds classroom doors open, with adults moving freely in and out to observe, offer feedback and troubleshoot instructional issues. "A strong culture of collaboration stands as the single most impactful element in the growth of a teacher or leader," says Chris Bostock, principal at Achievement First Amistad High School. "This is how we develop successful teachers who are able to hold our kids to unambiguously high expectations -- for their academics and for their conduct -- they are capable of meeting."

This emphasis on teamwork stands counter to the traditional approach to public high school education. In most traditional high schools, independent teachers operate in autonomous classrooms, with each expected to invent every aspect of their students' experience -- from curricular materials to complex systems of consequences and rewards. Without a clear and unified vision for planning and instructional time, this approach places significant strain on teachers while undermining the success of their students. Asked to navigate seven or eight sets of different academic and classroom culture expectations throughout the course of the day, students are more likely to err unknowingly and become slower to develop positive, productive academic habits conducive to high school and post-secondary success.

To break this broken paradigm, the cooperative model at Achievement First hinges on a spirit of teamwork underscored by several formal mechanisms of collaboration to ensure that all teachers, leaders and staff row together toward college readiness:

Common Expectations
Academic Alignment
Co-Planning