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Transforming teaching at Johnson Middle School

Education Forward DC
Education Forward DC

Something powerful is happening at John Hayden Johnson Middle School in Southeast DC, and it is empowering teachers to be more creative, innovative, and collaborative.

Through a partnership with CityBridge Education, supported by Education Forward DC, Sixth Grade Academy teachers at John Hayden Johnson Middle School designed and implemented a new team teaching approach with the guidance of Leslie Ayorkor Edwards, the Senior Project Director of CityBridge’s Transforming Teaching Initiative. Educators collaborate in pairs, teaching across content areas for block periods. The sixth grade teachers also meet regularly as a team to analyze student data and refine their strategies.

“I love it,” said Erika West, who teaches math. “One teacher can’t physically do it all, but also one teacher is only providing one set of ideas. When you have two teachers, the students benefit from all the ideas and support and experience.”

Ed Forward DC invested in CityBridge’s Transforming Teaching Initiative* as part of its strategy to understand the challenges educators face and how to retain them. The program is designed to lead DC schools in piloting and scaling innovative teaching models and is working with four DC schools to increase teacher retention, strengthen the teacher candidate pool, and improve student outcomes. At Johnson, CityBridge provided sixth grade teachers with professional development, access to the cohort of teachers who are also part of the pilot program, and ongoing onsite support.
Assistant Principal Rashida Young believes working with CityBridge to reimagine teaching has helped her further her mission of building relationships and increasing collaboration between teachers while yielding positive student benefits.

“For us at Johnson, when sixth grade teachers hear that we’re going to be doing teaming, that is automatic retention,” said AP Young.

And students’ sense of belonging has increased according to data from the school’s latest Panorama Survey. This fall’s survey showed that 81 percent of Johnson students indicated a high sense of belonging, up from 57 percent in 2022. The average for schools not participating in the pilot was 59 percent. Chronic absenteeism at Johnson has also decreased significantly by approximately 50 percent.

It just shows that when you have a team of educators working together strategically on how they show up as leaders and adults in their space, and [understanding] how that also impacts students and how students feel about their learning experience, then the data speaks for itself,” said CityBridge’s Leslie Edwards.

“This partnership has increased not only the students’ sense of belonging but also the teachers’ sense of belonging,” said AP Young. “It has been powerful.”

Education Forward DC
Education Forward DC

Every DC student deserves to thrive.