Remember ‘Why Bridgeport Must Succeed?’

About five months ago I wrote a blog about one of our partner’s, Bridgeport, Conn.

Vicki blogged about Bridgeport in a recent post for Impatient Optimists. I was actually surprised that the article focused on how they use part of the time they have for Innovative Professional Development (iPD) to connect with parents. “At Central High School, for example, 9th grade teacher teams last year met with or talked to 90% of their parents about their students’ learning.  And, teachers there tell us they are committed to the same goal this year”, Vicki wrote. Parents are a critical factor in student success. We know that teachers don’t think they can help all students succeed on their own. They need the support of parents.

bridgeportBut a lot has happened in Bridgeport, besides stronger parent engagement, since I wrote that blog. Not only is there a new superintendent, but there is also a new principal of the school since we filmed this video[LJ1]  on their work.  Eric Graf, an assistant principal, has become the principal of Central High. With that many leadership changes, you might wonder: Will iPD survive? It was a good idea then, but what about now?

Here’s the surprise. Bridgeport has a five-of-seven schedule, by teacher contract, meaning one period of preparation per day and one administration-controlled duty period (non-student contact). Last year they used a process called School by Design and figured out a way to create a full day of PD every week for core teachers in 9th and 10th grades. They converted the duty period to iPD and used a design that allowed them to get the time all in one day instead of spread out across the week.  Read more about how their school is organized here.

That was great for some teachers, but other teachers were left out. They wanted to know why they couldn’t have iPD, too. So Eric changed out EVERY SINGLE DUTY PERIOD in his whole school for every single teacher (not just core teachers) and made their assignment iPD! Everyone has time for we call “collective development or learning.”

When Eric was asked if he was hurting because of the loss of those people for duty assignments, which adds to the administrators’ load, he said no and that he and his team are absorbing the load to give teachers time. He even worked to coordinate what teachers had duty at the same time, so the PD groups would make sense professionally.

And then it gets better. One of the leads who did iPD last year introduced the other teachers to the idea of Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) mini-tasks, and they loved it. So many of the teachers are doing LDC mini-tasks inside their time.

100% of staff on board.  I’m still confident that Bridgeport will succeed if the leadership continues to support the needs of teachers.

– C.