The MyTeachingPartner™ professional development model has been shown to be effective for improving teaching practices and student achievement in over 200 prek-12 classrooms. Now, its developers at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) are exploring potential new ways to expand the model’s influence on instruction. A partnership with the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility will provide the first opportunity for CASTL researchers to test the feasibility of adapting MyTeachingPartner for use with an evidence-based social and emotional learning curriculum - The 4Rs (Reading, Writing, Respect & Resolution).
“Even the most well-organized, research-based curriculum will fall short in its promise to help children learn without attention to how well the curriculum is implemented,” said Jason Downer, research associate professor at CASTL. “This project is about providing professional development that supports teachers to enhance the richness and depth with which they engage students in the 4Rs curriculum.”
MyTeachingPartner is a system of professional development supports that improve teacher-student interactions. Trained coaches view self-recorded video footage submitted by teachers and assess their instruction using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System™, or CLASS. The CLASS characterizes, for example, how well the teacher engages students during a lesson, demonstrates sensitivity to individual students’ needs, manages classroom time, and draws out students’ higher level thinking skills. CASTL researchers have found these teacher-student interactions to be among the basic building blocks for effectively teaching curricula. MyTeachingPartner coaches provide feedback to the teachers and share selections from an extensive online video library of best teaching practices.
The 4Rs integrates a curriculum that fosters students’ social and emotional learning into language arts from prekindergarten to grade 8. Thirty New York City public schools—and seven more in Ohio—are currently implementing the curriculum. Students in these schools have at least one class a week in which they engage in reading, writing, discussion, and skills practice aimed at fostering caring, responsible behavior. Students develop skills to help them better understand and manage feelings, relate well to others, make good decisions, deal well with conflict, and take responsibility for improving their classroom and school community. The program fosters a positive school culture that discourages behaviors like bullying.
The most recent research on The 4Rs curriculum, recently published in the journal Child Development, provides scientific evidence that The 4Rs has a powerful effect on children. The rigorous three-year study, conducted by researchers from New York University, Fordham, and Harvard, found that compared to children in control schools, kids in schools implementing The 4Rs were less aggressive, less likely to ascribe hostile motives to others, and had greater social competency. Children judged by their teachers to be at greatest behavioral risk showed marked improvements in attendance, academic skills, and standardized test scores.
“I learned about MyTeachingPartner from the researchers who were conducting a rigorous scientific study of The 4Rs,” said Tom Roderick, executive director of the Morningside Center and creator of The 4Rs curriculum. “I saw immediately that MyTeachingPartner’s approach—combining the CLASS framework with videotaping teachers’ 4Rs lessons—would give our staff developers a powerful lever for improving the quality of 4Rs instruction.” He added that the CLASS instrument provides a clear definition of high-quality teaching that is aligned well with The 4Rs.
“The partnership between MTP and The 4Rs retains essential elements of both, while also breaking new ground that merges the two programs for the benefit of both teachers and students,” Downer said. For example, based on feedback during pilot testing last spring, a new video library was created with examples of teachers engaged in high quality instruction during 4Rs lessons.
by Lynn Bell