Teaching Excellence and Neighborhood Centers Inc. Embark on New Partnership

This summer, Teaching Excellence (TE), YES Prep’s premier first-year teacher development program, embarked on a partnership with Neighborhood Centers Inc. (NCI) to support the organization’s first-year and novice teachers. TE also partners with KIPP-Houston and Spring Branch ISD. We interviewed Kaitlyn Baldwin, Senior Academic Officer at NCI and Calvin Stocker, Director of Program for TE.
Novice teachers at Teaching Excellence's Induction
Novice teachers at Teaching Excellence’s Induction

How did the partnership develop?

Kaitlyn Baldwin (NCI): It’s so important in a teacher’s first few years that they receive not just a lot of support but really high-quality support. For new teachers, that support needs to be specifically tailored to the acquisition of new teacher knowledge and skills. I was concerned our new teachers’ needs at NCI weren’t being fully met. Our coaching structure is primarily based on content coaching, and we have a small instructional team spread across teachers with varying levels of experience. I saw that TE was offering something that other programs weren’t. The majority of certification programs just don’t provide adequate coaching for teachers; they tend to be focused on compliance. TE was offering high-quality coaching and intentional, well-designed professional development to support new teachers. A strong first year of teaching is so incredibly important to a teacher’s future career, and for the retention of talent in this field. When teachers experience true professional growth that year, that is to say, when they feel successful, their satisfaction skyrockets and their likelihood of staying in the classroom skyrockets.

Calvin Stocker (TE): TE is incredibly intentional about who we partner with. We look for 1) high-level of alignment in philosophy and mission 2) desire and need for support in accelerating teacher effectiveness and instruction through coaching and professional learning. NCI was a logical partner because they meet that criteria. They’ve also done a lot of work in community outreach and community development. That’s something YES Prep wants to learn more about– how we support and approach communities and how that translates into high-quality instruction. With NCI, there’s the unique opportunity to continue to develop how we support elementary teachers as well.

A strong first year of teaching is so incredibly important to a teacher’s future career, and for the retention of talent in this field.

Now that we are a few months into the partnership, how is it going?

Kaitlyn Baldwin (NCI): Both from a programmatic level and from an on-the-ground coaching level, everyone at TE has been so helpful. I’d say we are off to a strong start. This summer, our teachers had such positive things to say about their TE induction. They really enjoyed working with the TE staff, getting a chance to rehearse, and receive feedback. They felt that the staff was very knowledgeable, friendly, and easy to work with.

I met with the ICs assigned to our schools last week, and I walked away feeling so excited and grateful that we had people like them on the ground working with our teachers. In each interaction, I’ve seen a genuine desire to ensure our teachers and learning, improving, and satisfied. I am excited to see what the great things this partnership will bring – this is only the beginning!

Calvin Stocker (TE): Kaitlyn and her team have been really gracious about asking critical questions and seeking to understand rationale. Over time, TE has become this time-tested, proven program and we’re often trying to move 100 mph. New partnerships like this one with NCI remind us that the first year of any partnership requires slowing down and being intentional about learning about each other to better support each other and our shared mission. Especially on a community level, we learn and grow from other organizations

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