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Teacher Talks to Shed Light on Pittsburgh Public School Needs

A local education nonprofit is asking teachers in Pittsburgh's middle and high schools what they need to do their job better.

A+ Schools Executive Director Carey Harris said her organization aims to talk with more than 100 teachers from Pittsburgh Public Schools and three charter schools. Harris said the 30-minute sessions will be a confidential means of determining the schools' strengths and weaknesses.

Beginning October 4, volunteers for A+ Schools will visit each middle and high school for a day, asking for teachers to volunteer their time. Harris said she hopes the anonymity of the talks will result in candid testimony.

"We're asking them: do they have what they need in order to make a positive learning environment for every classroom? Who's supporting them as a teacher? What kind of professional development opportunities are most effective for them? What do they need from the community? How could the community be supportive of them?" said Harris.

Harris said this is the third year of her group's "School Works" program; in the first two years, volunteers conducted similar interviews with principals and guidance counselors.

Several middle and high schools adopted new policies as a result of those sessions, Harris said. Those new efforts included intervention plans for students at risk of dropping out; better availability of high-level classes; and behavior management plans for entire schools.

Harris said the results of the teacher interviews will be released to the public next spring.