Greenhouse Schools: How Schools Can Build Cultures Where Teachers and Students Thrive

The New Teacher Project's (TNTP) Greenhouse Schools considers the link between a school’s instructional culture and both teacher retention and student achievement. TNTP surveyed 4,800 teachers in 250 schools nationwide (including charter schools) to determine what it calls “greenhouse schools”, or schools that nurture a great learning environment. These schools prioritize quality educators above all else, in attempts to foster the best learning environment possible. TNTP found that “greenhouse schools” keep more top teachers and get better results for students compared to schools with weaker instructional culture. The report then looks at what those schools are doing differently.

Based on its study, TNTP suggests that these are the principles for improving schools, using strong instructional culture as a foundation:

  • Teachers desire strong instructional culture. It helps to retain quality teachers and fosters a better learning environment where educators share the same vision and goals.
  • Schools with better instructional cultures help students learn more efficiently. The report found that greenhouse schools had a 21 percentage point higher math score and a 14 percentage points higher score in reading, compared to schools with weaker instructional culture.
  • Schools leaders who hire early and selectively tend to attract the highest quality teachers. Investing more time in the hiring process to acquire talented teachers is the best way to improve instructional culture, the report suggests.
  • Improvements in instructional culture are possible in a relatively short time. To change a school’s instructional culture, administrators should assess areas for improvement in instructional culture, create an action plan, and monitor progress in implementing the action plan.

Principals and school leaders need to examine ways to improve their instructional culture, and then proceed to implement a plan to set these goals in motion.

Greenhouse Schools: How Schools Can Build Cultures Where Teachers and Students Thrive
The New Teacher Project
April, 2012

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