Pittsburgh's A+ Schools program prepares for confidential teacher talks

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Pittsburgh's A+ Schools program is searching for 150 volunteers to perform confidential interviews with middle and high school teachers as part of the group's third year of school data collection.

The public school support organization launched its School Works research program in 2009 with interviews with middle and high school principals. Last year, it focused on principals and guidance counselors and released the findings in a series of public meetings.

This fall, A+ Schools hopes to interview 100 teachers, or about 10 percent of the middle and high school teacher pool. Past interviews with administrators included discussions on policies for student behavior and dropout prevention, director Carey Harris said, but now they will probe how the policies have filtered down to the classroom.

"What do [teachers] have? What do they need but don't have? What stands in the way?" Ms. Harris said when asked to characterize the questions. "Are you getting the kind of professional development you need? What things support and help you grow? What strategies do you use in class to make a positive learning environment?"

Pittsburgh Public Schools administration and its teacher union released statements supporting the drive.

A+ Schools is seeking volunteers to conduct the interviews -- anyone is invited, as long as he or she can commit to two hours of training and two hours of conducting interviews. The training will be available nights or weekends, but the interviews will have to be during the school day.

It also needs teachers to agree to sit in for the 30-minute sessions. They will be held in the district's middle and high schools Oct. 3 through Nov. 4. Teachers at the city's three charter high schools are also being asked to participate.

More information is available from A+ Schools at 412-697-1298 or www.aplusschools.org.

Tim McNulty: tmcnulty@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1581.


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