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“Being on a team has made me blossom”: Lessons learned from Next Education Workforce site visits

Nov 6, 2023 | From the field, Site visits


Over two days in October, educators and leaders from more than 10 states joined the Next Education Workforce™ team in Arizona for site visits. These experiences give leaders across the educational landscape who are interested in exploring and implementing team-based staffing models an opportunity to see them in action. These include school leaders, teacher leaders, and members of state departments of education. Over 60 attendees boarded buses to visit two schools each (The Creighton Academy, Smith Junior High School, Stevenson Elementary School and Westwood High School) that have taken significant steps to staff their schools differently — and better meet the needs of students and educators in the process.

At each school, all located in the Phoenix metropolitan area, attendees were also able to speak directly with principals and educators who have designed team-based models for their specific context. Part of these discussions included both educator and student panels, during which each panelist shared their individual experiences with the Next Education Workforce.

“When you give people a say, everyone has more buy-in and it feels more like a family. It ensures that everyone on the team feels valued”, said one educator who teaches on a team in the Mesa Public School District. He continued, “I couldn’t have done this job without my mentor and my team. To have the ability to look in on teachers on your team to see how they do it has made my life so much easier.” 

“My favorite thing is learning”, said one student from Mesa Public Schools. She continued, “I like seeing two different teachers because they’re both fun and they’re both cool, but in very different ways. It helps me to learn better.”

Next Education Workforce team-based staffing models are not implemented with a “one size fits all” approach. Rather, each school or school system’s needs, capacity for change and unique set of characteristics are all taken into account, and a model is designed that works in their context. 

One thing that they do have in common is their goal: to offer deeper and more personalized learning for the students that the school or system serves by implementing Elements of the Next Education Workforce. These Elements are found at the team, school and system levels and are grounded in values of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. The Elements also help to foster a sense of community for learners and educators. As one educator working in a team-based model very powerfully shared, “I could never go back to the siloed way of teaching. Being on a team has made me blossom.”

Join us for a future site visit

As Chong-Hao Fu of Leading Educators shared during his October site visit, “I left feeling inspired by how you are building a national movement of innovative educators dedicated to tackling one of the most persistently challenging problems in education – the role of a teacher. And you are doing it by inspiring others to build alongside you.”

We invite leaders from across the education landscape to join us for future site visits to experience this inspiration firsthand. View dates for upcoming 2023–24 site visits, agendas for one and two-day experiences, and frequently asked questions. Learn more.

Please note that site visits have filled up months in advance. Please register all members of your group early if you’d like to join us this year.

Notes about the author:

  • Bruce Watson

    Bruce Watson, EdD serves as senior program manager, marketing and communications for the Next Education Workforce team at Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Bruce curates, contributes to, and publishes the Next Education Workforce blog.

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