Developing lifelong learners is one of ResponsiveEd’s goals. Strong teachers play a vital role in meeting this goal. This year ResponsiveEd’s content directors launched the Master Teacher Program as a way to support teachers in the classroom and make sure students are receiving the instruction they need to be successful.
ResponsiveEd’s History director John Heitzenrater believes the program will help students by providing teachers with the support they need.
“When we were hired as content directors, our first consideration was how to support teachers to make sure the curriculum is being utilized to develop students. We looked for teachers who love their craft and their students, which results in strong student performance,” said Mr. Heitzenrater.
The content directors from the four core subject areas of English Language Arts & Reading (ELAR), History, Math and Science, all looked for exemplary teachers in their subject area and grade level. They grouped the grade levels into Kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grade, sixth through eighth grade and high school. Every grade group should have a master teacher for each subject area in ResponsiveEd’s Houston and Dallas hubs.
Master teacher Chrenda Dotsy, a K-2 history teacher at Clay Classical Academy, says the program is particularly helpful for new teachers.
“As a teacher, I see this program as really helpful. I have been teaching at Clay Classical Academy for seven years, and in the process I have had a chance to hear many of the challenges teachers face. I really like being able to help because everything I have learned personally didn’t come from a book, but from other teachers. Receiving answers from someone who is in the classroom as well really helps and encourages questions,” said Ms. Dotsy.
Joy Morris, ResponsiveEd’s director of K-12 English Language Arts & Reading, believes the program not only makes sure teachers are receiving the support they need, but also ensures teacher quality in all of ResponsiveEd’s schools.
“The Master Teacher Program is just a way for us as a district to identify teachers who are doing things the way we intend all teachers to do them. Each student is different, and a good teacher has to meet each of their individual needs. That is not easy. From our perspective, we are taking these teachers and allowing them to help us grow other teachers. In education, we are about growing students on a campus level so I would like to view this as an opportunity for us to grow our teachers and help them be the best teachers they can be,” said Ms. Morris.
Ms. Morris says her teachers have extensive classroom experience.
“I looked for individuals who are success driven and have results in their classrooms. They are following the research best practices, there is high engagement in their classroom, they are utilizing the the curriculum we give them and they are facilitating learning on all levels in their classroom,” said Ms. Morris.
Teachers with questions about anything from classroom management or grading to content or scope and sequence can contact a Master Teacher. They also can sit in on a master teacher’s classroom or have a master teacher visit to give them pointers.
“We have some pretty serious curriculum. Good instruction is vital to student performance. We have a lot of great teachers and we hope this program will provide them with the support they need to continue growing,” said Heitzenrater.
With the help of master teachers, the content directors also hold regular video conferencing meetings to offer support on anything from model lessons to classroom management. Always the goal is to provide the support and resources teachers need to grow successful adults.
“Ultimately all support for teachers really benefits students in a classroom. If teachers aren’t clear on how or what to teach or they leave some key content out, then later down the road that missing information can cause gaps in a student’s education,” said Ms. Dotsy.