Update: After conversations and design sessions with organizations including Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools published a Success Coaching Playbook. The guide is a research-based framework that is available for educators and schools wanting to build a network of success coaches to work with students one-on-one and in small-group settings.

With the start of a new — and very different — academic year approaching, schools are facing a set of new challenges as they plan to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has placed significant staffing pressures on schools. Community engagement plays a crucial role in helping to solve these issues,” says Brent Maddin, executive director of Next Education Workforce at MLFTC.

Along with a handful of other expert partners, including Dezudio, PBDW Architects, EdTogether, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools, Public Impact and TNTP, MLFTC worked with Brooklyn Lab Charter School to develop Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools’ Back to School Instructional Program Scheduling Map. This free resource is for schools to use as they think about and plan where, how, from whom and what students will learn.

The map aims to address concerns from public health experts, students, teachers, caregivers and schools about maintaining health and safety, providing options for remapping classrooms to comply with social distancing policies. It explores insights on staff scheduling, class configurations and other planning considerations with the goal of making the return to school safe and successful for all students. 

Community educators are a crucial component of providing students with the support they need, Maddin says. In the scheduling map, Maddin and his team lay out how the community can play a central role in this fall’s return to school, addressing the following questions: 

  • How might we create new roles for educators that will improve outcomes for children?

  • How might we create ways to connect interested community members to opportunities in the classroom?

  • How might we ensure that community members can immediately support teachers and learners? 

“In moving from the outdated one-teacher-one-classroom model to one with teams of adults with distributed expertise working to deepen and personalize learning for all students, we can create new roles for educators that will improve outcomes for students.” In addition to professional teachers and specialized paraprofessional roles, community educators — talented adults from the broader community who bring additional capacity, insight and expertise to classrooms — can play an important role in meeting the needs of all learners, says Maddin. 

“Professional learning opportunities can accelerate the development and contributions of community educators,” says Stuart Rice, director of Digital Initiatives at MLFTC.

Community educators can complete online training that prepares them to work with students in an educational setting. The training focuses on both the skills, such as helping children with word solving and guiding inquiry, and the dispositions needed to enhance learning. From there, schools can identify those members who are ready to contribute to either the physical or digital classroom.

The plan doesn’t stop there. MLFTC is also developing micro-credentials and new courses for community educators.

View the scheduling map for a sample catalog of micro-courses for community educators.