In an earlier post I presented my vision for world class schools at UCF. In a series of six posts, I will go deeper into each of my six priorities for our schools. Previously, I covered Priority #1: Students.
Priority #2: Great Teachers, Principals, and Administrators
Research has shown that great teachers make a huge difference in the lives of their students. Great teachers help their students learn more, grow more, and blossom as individuals. Students of great teachers even earn more as adults!
World class schools recognize the value of great teachers. It starts by attracting the best candidates to the district. This requires strategic marketing of our district, and targeting the strongest candidate pools. Our interview process needs to be highly selective. And our pay and benefits must continue to be competitive with other top schools.
Once teachers join us, we should invest in their development with training, regular coaching and feedback, professional education, and mentoring from our best experienced teachers. As new teachers complete their three-year state-mandated probationary period, we must fairly but strictly hold to our high expectations and standards, and award tenure to those who earn it.
As teachers progress in their career, we must provide them the resources and support to grow, innovate, and succeed. We should provide our teachers autonomy to practice their craft, and give feedback through peer review and a multi-faceted evaluation system. And we should recognize and reward teachers as they successfully engage our students.
The same system with high expectations should be in place for principals and senior leaders in administration. We need to hire great leaders, and provide them the resources to succeed and innovate, hold them accountable to achieve district goals, and recognize and reward them when they do.
For both teachers and administrators, we should adjust our human resource systems and pay practices so that we attract, retain, and reward top educators. This is a critical issue for the district in the next several years, because a significant proportion of our teachers will retire in the next decade. If we put in place the right practices, UCF will become the employer of choice for great teachers and administrators. It should be tough to get hired at UCF, but also be the best place to practice as a skilled educator. If we have the best teachers and administrators, the result will be improved student learning, and more life opportunities for our students.