Time to Help Teachers Grow

north star academy

North Star Academy
Newark, NJ

By giving teachers more time to receive support and feedback on their teaching, expanded learning time can significantly strengthen instruction for students. At North Star Academy, there is a relentless focus on supporting teachers and helping teachers hone their approach to the classroom – and more time makes it possible.

North Star’s instructional leaders conduct classroom observations, then meet with teachers one-on-one to provide feedback and assist with lesson planning.

All teachers at North Star are assigned an “instructional leader” to support their development. Instructional leaders provide teachers with a minimum of three hours of supervision each week. The weekly supervision starts with one hour of classroom observation, a subsequent one-hour meeting to provide feedback, and a third hour to work together to plan next week’s lessons. New and struggling teachers can receive up to twice as much coaching each week. Instructional leaders, who also teach classes, receive their own coaching on how to support their colleagues.

To make sure there’s time for these vital meetings, North Star’s teachers typically teach four out of seven class periods each school day, which runs from 7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. “These meetings take time, and they are an important part of our work to make sure our students receive an excellent education,” says Juliann Harris, North Star’s 9th and 10th grade Academy Leader.

North Star’s rate of student proficiency on the state math exams has reached 100 percent, and in reading, it exceeds 90 percent. By working with teachers, who then ensure that students are meeting their personal goals and the school’s goals for them, North Star Academy is preparing its student body for college, careers, and beyond, while refining a system that is able to provide thoughtful support to future students.