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May 19, 2017

 

Opportunity Culture Wendell Phillips  

 
It’s
celebration time at Wendell Phillips School 63.

 

“One of my
students got excited yesterday because after getting all of the questions wrong
on his computer assignment, he finally got them all right. He let out a loud,
‘Wow,’ as loud as he could because he finally got an A. It was really cute,”
said Alex Raynor, a third-grade teacher at Wendell Phillips.   

 

Sharing
student success stories is how third-grade teachers at the west side school
start their weekly Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings. Tristan
Bragg is their head cheerleader.Opportunity Culture Wendell Phillips

 

“Yesterday,
all of my kids got all of the questions right! I want to celebrate that!” said Bragg.

 

Bragg has a
unique position at Wendell Phillips. She’s more than a teacher. She’s also a
leader who coaches other teachers.

 

“I really
enjoy instructional coaching and empowering teachers to do great things for
their kids and their room through content,” said Bragg, whose formal title is Multi-Classroom
Leader (MCL).

 

Bragg is
part of a new program in IPS called Opportunity Culture (OC).

 

The district
is the first in the state of Indiana to develop an Opportunity Culture model,
which extends the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students,
for more pay, through a new and innovative staffing framework. Depending on the
level of responsibility, stipends for the OC teacher range from $6,800 to
$18,300 for different leadership roles without having to leave the classroom!
The stipends are in addition to the tearcher’s annual salary.

 

Bragg is a
MCLII, meaning she leads two to three other teachers and carries the student
load equal to four to six teachers.

 

“My job here
is I coach third- and fourth-grade teachers on all subjects and all content. I
hold weekly PLCs and data analysis with teachers. I observe, give feedback and
coach them to meet their personal goals and the district goals,” said Bragg.

 

The teachers
love it!

 

“Honestly, I
was not sure at the beginning how it was going to work or what it was going to
look like, but I absolutely love it,” said Raynor. “I feel like this year, I’ve
learned and grown more than in the last five years that I’ve been a teacher. So,
it’s been amazing and (Bragg) is incredible.”

 

Raynor was
part of the design team last year to help create the program tailor-made for
their students and teachers. Principal Paul Wirth spearheaded the efforts.

 

“Our Opportunity Culture Design Team decided to start at third and fourth
grade this year because assessment scores on IREAD-3 and ISTEP were not showing
appropriate growth,” said Wirth.

 

In addition
to coaching teachers, Bragg also spends plenty of time in the classroom teaching.  It’s her first love, and she’s thrilled to
continue it.

 

“What
excited me the most is I was a third-grade teacher and I know what type of
support you need with it being the first year students take the state tests
here in Indiana,” said Bragg.  “That’s
what attracted me to the position. The extra money was an added bonus.”

 

Wendell
Phillips is one of six schools finishing its first year of OC. Eleven more
schools have been in the design phase this year with plans to implement in the
2017-2018 school year. 

 

“In IPS,
Opportunity Culture is available to any school that wants it. It’s all a part
of the autonomy the schools have to tailor their programming to the specific
needs of their school, students and culture,” said Mindy Schlegel, IPS human resources
officer.

 

“It’s been
very beneficial for me because it’s my first full year. Last year, I came in
halfway through the year and I just kind of felt like I was surviving. This year
I feel like I’m really pushing forward because I have so much support,” said
Koehler Griffin, a third-grade teacher at Wendell Phillips.

 

Prior to
implementing OC, Wendell Phillips had a K-6 literacy coach who provided support
to all 20 teachers in the building. 

 

“We don’t
share Ms. Bragg. She’s a more personal coach. She gets to know us and then goes
along with our style,” said Griffin.

 

“I work hard
to support relationships with teachers and kids so that when we’re designing
learning activities or adjusting the schedule, I already know what kid can
handle it and what kid might need some additional support,” said Bragg.

 

“Just
getting to watch her teach and have somebody who can explain to you what the
lesson should look like makes a big difference,” said Raynor.  “Getting to
co-teach with her is the icing on the cake.  She co-teaches for us, plans
with us, models with us.  It’s just making us better teachers.”

 

“Just
getting to watch her teach, to have somebody who can explain to you what the
lesson should look like and help you,” said Raynor. “Getting to co-teach with
her. She co-teaches for us, plans with us, models with us. It’s just making us
better teachers.”

 

IPS is
currently accepting applications for Opportunity Culture Teacher Leadership
positions for 2017-2018 on a rolling basis. To learn more about Opportunity
Culture, go to: myips.org/opportunityculture.