The power and promise of blended learning—to let students learn individually paced basics online, so teachers can focus on personalized, enriched face-to-face instruction—can bring excellent teaching to more students, and enable all teachers to earn at least 20 percent more, sustainably. In addition, teachers can gain planning and collaboration time during school hours.
How? In what we call Time-Technology Swaps—one of the job models in an Opportunity Culture— excellent teachers and the teams they lead reach more students, for more pay, within budget, without having to increase class sizes. Paraprofessionals working with leadership and direction from teachers supervise the online-learning time. Lower wage rates for paraprofessionals enable higher pay for the excellent teachers and their teams. These teaching teams can teach more students without increasing class size because, at a given time, some of their students are online while teachers work in person with others. Schools can even reduce class sizes and still pay teachers more.
Teachers may replace approximately 20 to 50 percent of face-to-face instructional time in a given subject with digital instruction, depending on student ages, other student needs, and the quality of available digital instruction.
Students may spend as little as a total of an hour daily online, depending on age. “Digital time” need not all be spent in front of a computer screen. Digital labs (and mixed-use classrooms) may also have space and tables for offline “homework at school,” tutoring, and student project work, reducing screen time.
Blended-learning teachers can also use part of their freed time for planning and collaboration during school hours, which surveys show teachers crave. Good teachers can collaborate with and learn from excellent peers, potentially boosting everyone’s success. The new staffing mix of additional paraprofessionals and blended-learning teachers helps schools ensure that no students have truly ineffective teachers.
Students at the elementary level can spend as little as about one hour daily learning in a digital/homework lab and greatly increase their odds of having an excellent teacher, especially if teachers specialize in their best subjects. Excellent elementary math/science teachers can teach three or four classes of students, and language arts/social studies teachers can teach twice the usual number of students, without increasing class sizes. All teachers earn more, and, with proper scheduling, teaching teams can collaborate daily at school.
In middle and high schools, when students spend every other day in a digital/homework lab, teachers can teach 50 percent more students, for more pay, without increasing class sizes, and gain 5 to 15 hours of planning time weekly. Students increase their odds of having excellent teachers by 50 percent, and teaching teams have time to work collaboratively, with leadership by great teachers.
Note: More digital/homework lab time allows teachers to reach more students, but must be limited to levels that produce excellent learning outcomes and allow the development of the whole child. All of the Opportunity Culture models are constructed with this in mind, but individual school design teams will need to make choices that suit each student population. See our schedule examples to understand how new job models enable team collaboration time, excellence, and opportunities for all teachers and students.
—Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan C. Hassel