Keeping Educators at the Heart: The Propello Approach to Pedagogy and the Future of Education
by Amanda Bratten on Jan 18, 2023 9:41:31 AM
Education in the U.S. has reached a critical inflection point. In the wake of the pandemic, budget cuts, and staffing challenges, educators shoulder enormous responsibility. Today, teachers are expected to master new systems and standards, create custom lesson content for a spectrum of learners, and support new teachers’ growth and development—all in addition to running a classroom and keeping students engaged.
Given how much we demand from teachers, it’s not surprising that educator burnout and attrition are on the rise. More than ever, teachers need to be recognized, empowered, and equipped with resources that spark joy and galvanize their passion. How we collectively respond to their needs will have a ripple effect for generations to come.
At Propello, our goal is to support exhausted, overwhelmed, and under-resourced educators through the challenges that exist today and give them the tools they’ll need to navigate unknown obstacles in the future. That’s because we know that when teachers have the holistic support they need, everyone benefits — especially students.
Data shows that the biggest impact on students isn’t the curriculum but the teacher. While a high-quality curriculum is essential, if you don’t empower teachers and support them in their own learning journey, you’ll never realize the full potential of your investment.
Conversely, when teachers feel confident and supported, and have the tools to reach each individual at their zone of proximal development, students thrive.
Our philosophy is that you can’t effectively cultivate learning and growth for students unless you offer opportunities for teachers to grow and learn, too.
Student success relies on educators’ abilities to teach while leveraging best practices grounded in the science of learning. But as new research helps guide innovations in pedagogy, it can be an arduous task for educators to turn this theory into practice.
We believe the most effective way administrators can help teachers elevate their instructional practices is to provide authentic support for developing their knowledge and skills while they’re teaching, and see growth in themselves as they foster growth in their students.
For this reason, our team has thoughtfully and intentionally created embedded guidance for applying best practices in teaching and learning relevant to each unit or lesson. For example, our Propello Science 6-8 curriculum has in-lesson teacher guidance on utilizing driving question boards, a necessity in inquiry-based instruction, so teachers can immediately leverage this approach in the classroom, continue to practice the instructional strategy, and eventually transfer the skills of guiding student questioning to other teaching environments..
Every member of our curriculum content development team is a current or former educator with K-12 classroom experience. In fact, some of our team members taught through the pandemic and are acutely aware of everyday challenges, technology trends, and the mounting demands on both teachers and students. This perspective helps ensure our content reflects teacher and student needs rather than merely checking boxes on a list of skills to be covered.
What it Means to Support Teachers First
We all know a teacher who has lost their spark: someone who is passionate and dedicated, but with mounting tasks and lack of support, ends up burning the candle at both ends. It’s only a matter of time before they leave the profession...
When great teachers leave — or lack the time and resources to deliver the classroom experiences they want — our students lose. And a lack of educator support hurts not only schools but also entire communities.
Propello’s mission is to help every teacher, and in turn every student, reach their full potential. We believe that equipping teachers with the content and support they need to best teach their unique classroom of learners, we can alleviate some of the burden, reigniting a passion for teaching and learning, and in turn, improving student outcomes to impact the world far beyond the classroom.
Here are a few key ways Propello empowers teachers and students and drives meaningful results for schools and districts:
- Increasing equity in education
With a team of so many former educators, increasing access to high-quality education for all students is near and dear to hearts. We’re committed to making access to high-quality, year-long curriculum and instruction more affordable so that it can benefit students who need the most support. We want to ensure we do our part to help every child in every classroom receive grade-appropriate instruction to help close the achievement gap.
- Giving teachers time back in their day
Propello equips educators with an entire school year’s worth of standards-aligned curricula, labs, assignments, and assessments — freeing up several hours of precious time each week.
When teachers spend less time on content curation and creation, they have more bandwidth for deepening their connections with students, cultivating stronger relationships with parents, supporting extracurricular activities, and mentoring other teachers. Opening up their time also allows teachers to stave off burnout, be more present with their own families, and show up feeling less drained and more inspired.
- Providing intentional scaffolding and differentiation
Teaching standards-aligned curricula to a broad range of learners and ensuring every student masters the concepts isn’t easy. To keep lessons engaging and productive for students across the learning spectrum, teachers must gather resources to create scaffolding for those who need additional support and advanced content for those who need different challenges.
To ease this burden, Propello offers built-in scaffolding and differentiation including read-aloud functions, leveled texts for striving readers, and Spanish translations for English learners. All curriculum content is easily customizable so teachers can meet every learner’s needs without spending their free time scouring the internet and library for relevant resources. And with inquiry at the root of the NGSS, students help to drive the direction of their exploration, from developing the questions they’ll aim to answer and which activities and texts they access to help them with their discovery.
- Building in cultural responsiveness
Diversity and cultural relevance isn’t always baked into traditional curricula. Instead, teachers are responsible for helping students connect to concepts and find real-world significance. That means students' experiences with material depend entirely on their teacher’s dedication to cultural responsiveness.
To improve the learning experience for students and better support teachers, we build our curricula to intentionally reflect and promote diversity. We want to ensure students know science is for everyone and comes from everywhere. Because when students see themselves and their culture reflected in the material they study, they’re more likely to connect with the concepts.
- Ensuring easy customization
Teachers don’t typically follow textbooks cover-to-cover — they follow whatever path makes the most sense to them and the objectives outlined within state and district requirements. When using Propello, educators can rearrange curriculum content to complement various teaching styles and unique needs of their students, including the cross-disciplinary collaboration and integrated curriculum proven to drive positive results, while still covering all standards.
- Helping teachers identify students in need of additional support
For busy teachers, it’s not always immediately apparent which students have mastered the material and could benefit from more challenges and which students need additional scaffolding. And by the time teachers receive the results from end-of-unit assessments, it’s time to move on to the next unit or lesson.
To help overcome this challenge, Propello equips teachers with insights from formative assessments so they can quickly identify who needs more support and ensure all children are making progress. When educators have a clear view of their students’ ongoing performance, they can take the necessary steps to boost outcomes earlier and help every student reach their full potential.
A New Vision for the Future of Education
Looking ahead, we envision a future in which learning happens in the real world, with the structure and guidance of intuitive technology. We’re working to build a reality where high-quality curriculum and support are accessible to all schools and where technology doesn’t reinforce existing disparities but instead levels the playing field.
We also recognize that teaching is a social experience, and districts can’t rely on screen-based learning tools to fill the gaps that exist because teachers are overworked and overwhelmed. Instead, technology should streamline planning and curriculum creation so educators can get back to connecting with students, cultivating a life-long love of learning, and engaging in other work that keeps them fulfilled and students engaged.
Today, we’re standing at the precipice of an unknown future, and education has reached a critical moment. In our current climate, it can seem impossible to keep students from falling behind. But, here at Propello, we believe that by supporting and empowering teachers, everyone can soar.
Interested in learning more about Propello? Book a call with one of our experts by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org!