Newark: Strengthening School Culture
Great Oaks Charter School
Newark, New Jersey
Area of Work
Retention, School Culture
It’s no secret that instructional leadership matters: great teachers want to work in places with a common vision of effective teaching, clear expectations, and support to improve. But it’s less clear how school leaders can create that environment.
While Great Oaks Charter School in Newark regularly surveyed its teachers for feedback on its instructional culture, it wanted a more detailed picture of where and how to improve—and how it stacked up against other high-performing schools. In 2013, Great Oaks partnered with TNTP to collect anonymous feedback from its staff, compare the results to benchmark data collected from more than 300 schools nationwide, and identify opportunities to better retain and support teachers.
Teachers at Great Oaks completed TNTP's Insight survey, which distills teacher feedback on their workplace into a clear roadmap to a stronger school culture. Great Oaks’ results revealed that its teachers wanted more valuable professional development: only 50 percent agreed that the school was committed to supporting their growth and just 60 percent said they were learning new skills they could use right away in their classrooms.
In response, Great Oaks empowered teachers with an annual professional development budget to use on relevant opportunities, while setting clear expectations for what those opportunities should accomplish.
The school’s efforts are paying off: After just two years, 100 percent of teachers believe the school is committed to their development, and 91 percent of teachers report learning immediately useful new skills.
Now the school is responding to another challenge surfaced by Insight—teacher burnout—by testing out a new school schedule that shortens the amount of time teachers must spend at school without compromising the services and support students need. And it continues to use Insight survey data to make informed decisions and improve teacher satisfaction.
Executive Vice President, Client Team
Partner, Client Team