Public, Catholic, private schools join up in teacher collaborative

Boston educators are welcoming a new program to help teachers share best practices across public, charter, and Catholic schools, officials announced Tuesday.

The Boston Educators Collaborative, established in partnership with the Boston Compact and Teach Plus, will use a peer-to-peer model of professional development. Selected teachers will lead free 5-week, 15-hour courses through UMass Boston, and the participants will then return to their home schools to shared what they have learned with their colleagues.

Mayor Martin Walsh and education leaders in the city announced the collaborative at the Mission Church Grammar School in Roxbury, a 127-year-old Catholic school serving students from pre-kindergarten to grade 8.

Pooling resources across schools stands to benefit teachers and students throughout the city, Walsh said at a press conference following a tour of the Mission Hill school.

“We get caught up a lot in conversation about what schools… and who’s in what camp,” he said. “I’m the mayor of Boston. I’m the mayor of all 75,000 school-age kids. I went to kindergarten in a Boston public school, I went to grammar school at the St. Margaret Grammar School, I went to Union Park High School, and I’m a founding board member of a charter school, so I guess if you ask me which education I like, I’ve experienced them all first hand and they’re all great.”

Walsh was joined by Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang and other city education officials, representatives from the Boston Charter Alliance, the archdiocesan schools, Teach Plus, and the Boston Compact.

Chang said that educator collaboration helps individual schools improve strategies, increase academic rigor, and narrow opportunity and achievement gaps. “This is truly peer-to-peer work,” he said. “I’m a big believer in the best way to learn is to learn from your peers.”

Participants will be able to choose from six courses that will begin in May and be held on weekday evenings at Codman Academy, Mission Grammar School, and the Curley K-8 School. Topics include “Culturally Responsive Teaching: How Does Culture Play a Role in Learning?” and “Anything But Standard: Creative Ways to Engage Students in CCSS Writing.”

The individual classes are geared toward segments or the entirety of the K-12 system, with some focusing on earlier education and others – like “Literature Circles 101: Teaching Students to Read Like Adults” – pinpointing older middle and high school students. Additional courses will be offered throughout 2017 and 2018, officials said, with registration open for the first six courses at teachplus.org/BEC-registration.

The teachers who will lead the courses are designated as adjunct professors with UMass Boston and will earn a stipend. Attending teachers will receive credit for participating in the sessions.

Sharing knowledge and resources between school types in in the past has eased issues like transportation across the school district and opened conversations on how best to support black and Latino boys in school, educators said on Tuesday.

“So this collaborative, the Boston Educators Collaborative, is a new endeavor, but collaboration across the sectors is not new,” said Shannah Varón, executive director at the Boston Collegiate Charter School and chair of the Boston Charter Alliance, “This collaborative of educators will continue the work we’ve begun and enhance the benefits that we’ve started, because we all know our students are our number one priority and our teachers are our number one asset.”