Research shows that teachers have a greater impact on student achievement than any other school-related factor. Effective teachers can benefit students in significant ways, increasing their performance on standardized tests, their likelihood of attending college, and even their earnings as adults. In short, teachers are incredibly influential—not just for a school year, but often for a lifetime. At Insight Education Group and Insight ADVANCE, we recognize that recruiting, retaining, and developing highly-effective teachers are some of the most meaningful actions principals and administrators can take to promote student success, which is why we’re committed to supporting this important work in school districts around the country.
Project IGNITE (Innovation Generated by Networked Improvement Teams of Educators) is a powerful new partnership led by Insight Education Group that aims to raise student achievement by improving educator efficacy through evidence-based practices. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s 2020 Teacher and School Leader (TSL) Incentive Program, Project IGNITE provides much-needed professional resources and growth opportunities to educators in 49 schools across four districts: Greenville Independent School District (Greenville, TX); Jackson Public Schools (Jackson, MS); School District of Palm Beach County (West Palm Beach, FL); and Syracuse City School District (Syracuse, NY).
Through Project IGNITE, educators work together in a Networked Improvement Community (NIC), learning from the implementation of new strategies across diverse contexts. These strategies include instructional leadership teams that set a school’s vision and goals, teacher-led professional learning communities that develop solutions to common problems of practice, and instructional coaching that supports teachers’ ongoing growth and development. Each activity, combined with network- and district-level planning and collaboration, contributes to a larger system of support that enables all teachers to continually improve and ensures all students benefit from high-quality instruction.
Project IGNITE Activities
As Project IGNITE officially launches in our partner districts this fall, Insight ADVANCE’s online platform serves as an essential tool that harnesses the power of video to accelerate improvement and spread effective practices throughout the network. Here’s how ADVANCEfeedback plays a fundamental role in Project IGNITE:
It’s not surprising that teacher growth tends to plateau after about four years of experience. Those first few years in the classroom are times of intense learning and development that can be hard to replicate later on. Still, schools are always searching for compelling ways to help teachers continue to improve their instructional practice throughout their careers. Individualized, job-embedded coaching is Project IGNITE’s research-based approach to supporting teachers as they strive to achieve ongoing professional growth.
Effective instructional coaching involves two key components: teacher self-reflection and coach feedback. ADVANCEfeedback facilitates both of these steps in one central online space, with guidelines and rubrics built into the software to create a common language and set of expectations. When teachers use ADVANCEfeedback to submit videos of their classroom instruction to their coaches, both members of the relationship are able to view and react to the same piece of evidence, using the platform to document questions, comments, and ratings of the practices they each observe. To encourage learning and growth, ADVANCEfeedback also allows coaches to provide teachers with instructional resources directly tied to their video observations.
The online environment created by ADVANCEfeedback makes it easy for coaching to happen virtually or in-person, synchronously or asynchronously, giving Project IGNITE schools the flexibility to ensure coaching meets every teacher’s unique professional development needs.
ILTs and PLCs
Instructional Leadership Teams (ILTs) and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are crucial components of Project IGNITE’s system of educator supports. Each school’s ILT, which includes the principal and other instructional leaders, sets schoolwide goals to address common problems of practice and ensures alignment between the district’s priorities and teachers’ on-the-ground instruction. Teachers work toward these schoolwide goals following the Supporting Teacher Effectiveness Project (STEP) framework for PLCs, a structured process to identify, test, and disseminate effective teaching practices.
With ADVANCEfeedback, Project IGNITE schools have the ability to incorporate video into their ILT and PLC processes, eliminating the logistical challenges and time limitations of coordinating in-person classroom observations for groups of teachers and leaders. ILTs working to identify their schools’ greatest priorities for improvement can easily review videos that demonstrate different teaching methods across multiple grades and subjects. PLC groups working through the STEP process can similarly watch and share videos of their peers implementing effective instructional practices in different contexts, building a repository of exemplar lessons within the ADVANCEfeedback platform.
Video also expands the network to which schools have access, allowing educators within the Project IGNITE community to learn from videos of their peers in other schools and districts without ever needing to travel. This cross-site collaboration is what sets Project IGNITE apart from other school improvement initiatives, drawing upon a strong research base for the effectiveness of NICs and creating connections between educators across the country.
Training, Support, and Evaluation
This past school year has proven that video, when used effectively, holds great potential for supporting successful teaching, learning, and collaboration. As we continue to guide the implementation of Project IGNITE in our partner districts, our team of leadership coaches and project staff will leverage ADVANCEfeedback’s video capabilities to facilitate the training and ongoing support we offer teachers and leaders. Whether we are working with educators in person or remotely, ADVANCEfeedback allows us to incorporate example lesson videos into our trainings for coaching, ILTs, and PLCs. Coaches, ILTs, and PLC groups can also share video clips of their meetings with us at any point in the school year to receive timely, structured feedback on their engagement with the processes they’ve learned.
The online platform also provides us with important data on how educators are experiencing Project IGNITE’s various activities, allowing us to continuously evaluate their progress and the effective implementation of the project. After all, in the spirit of continuous improvement, we are always looking to measure and strengthen our own impact on the teachers and students we support.
One of the primary goals of Project IGNITE is to create sustainable systems that continue to benefit school districts for years to come. As teachers, coaches, and leaders gain expertise with implementing Project IGNITE’s various school improvement strategies, more and more students will experience the long-lasting positive outcomes of learning from highly effective, strongly supported educators. We at Insight and Insight ADVANCE are proud to play a part in making this possible.