It's Time to Treat Teachers as Talent
When we think about talent, we might imagine well-known athletes and artists, trained in and uniquely masterful of their craft. Or perhaps we imagine intellectuals and subject matter experts, educated in their chosen field, equipped with foundational knowledge to put into practice, and honing valuable skills through experience.
We trust that talent like professional athletes, designers, lawyers, scientists, and architects know their craft well enough that they also have ownership over how they want to continue to grow within their respective areas of expertise.
In addition, employers understand that competitive pay is a major component of retaining talent in all industries, but that autonomy, respect, and trust often play an equally essential role.
When it comes to the world of K-12 public education, however, the system does not treat educators as talent. In fact, public school teachers in particular are vulnerable to and often experience criticism and questioning from people both within and outside of the field.
Yet, no matter their experience level, teachers are:
- Educated and trained in their field.
- Passionate about doing their jobs well.
- Eager to grow in their areas of expertise through meaningful learning.
- At their best when equipped with reliable support systems, trust, and autonomy.
- Adaptable to a work environment that’s routinely impacted by the world outside the “office.”
It certainly makes sense that school and district administrators, parents, and community members would be interested in the level of instruction, engagement, and student success rate at the neighborhood public school.
However, when teachers are met with scrutiny rather than support, resources, and autonomy, the risk of losing the strong and invaluable talent responsible for shaping young learners is great.
To combat this, we need to build talent development systems that support, nurture, and elevate teachers. We need to start treating teachers as talent.
What does treating teachers as talent look like?
The details of these efforts will look different based on local context, but overall, treating teachers as talent requires:
01: Professional Learning Competencies
Align all talent development efforts around leveled key professional competencies in order to simplify educator support, eliminate burnout, and measure growth over time.
02: Evidence-Based Coaching
Replace compliance-based, one-size-fits-all PD and observation-based feedback with a job-embedded talent development and individualized coaching model that enhances agency because it is based on evidence of practice.
03: Individualized Pathways Toward Mastery
Expand opportunities for talent development to meet teachers’ individual needs, learning styles, and growth goals, creating personalized pathways toward mastery of skills and competencies.
04: Advanced Educator Growth Analytics
Implement an edtech platform designed to measure educator growth and enable data-informed decisions around talent development, allowing you to abandon initiatives or programs that neither align to competencies nor produce impactful learner outcomes.
What’s at stake if we don’t start treating teachers as talent?
We can’t forget that public education is the heart of a free and thriving culture and society, which is exactly what’s at stake if we don’t commit to treating teachers as talent.
Because we know that the most powerful lever in a student’s success during a K-12 education is the teacher, the work to support and treat teachers as talent has to start today – especially in the context of a national teacher shortage. For teachers to be what students need, talent development and support systems have to be what teachers need.
Luckily, we already have the talent development systems, methodologies, and platform in place to start treating teachers as talent! And as a proud partner of hundreds of public school districts doing this work already, we know that it works.
As I always say: Everyone needs a coach. Nobody needs a critic.