Project NGTResearch clearly shows that the quality of teachers is the most important school-level factor affecting students' learning

Since 1998, researchers at The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at Harvard University have studied efforts to attract, support, and retain skilled and committed teachers for all students in U.S. public schools. Initially, we focused on new teachers, themselves. We asked about their goals, preferences, practices, and career decisions. We found that these novices were indeed members of a new and different generation of professionals. As a cohort, they were more likely than their predecessors to treat teaching as a short-term career and to be dissatisfied with the conditions of their work—its professional isolation, standardized pay, uniform roles, and lack of opportunity for leadership and advancement.

We also learned that teachers’ satisfaction depends largely on the school context where they work, especially whether it supports them in achieving success with their students. If it does not, they may well transfer to another school or leave teaching altogether. Schools that reliably retain teachers have similar features—a principal who manages the school fairly and effectively, skilled colleagues who collaborate regularly, and an organizational culture that supports students, ensures order, and instills respect for learning. When we compared schools serving demographically similar communities, we found that students learned more in schools that teachers rated positively. It turns out that the workplace matters, not only for teachers, but also for students.

Our research and findings are designed to be of practical use to policymakers, practitioners, and researchers.  This website describes our research agenda and how it developed over the past two decades. It introduces members of our research team and their current work. It highlights the major themes of our research and, for each topic, includes citations and links to relevant articles, working papers, books, and a supplementary website.   

Where Teachers Thrive: Organizing Schools for Success  Book Cover Where Teachers ThriveBook Cover: Where Teacher Thrive

Susan Moore Johnson

 
Since 2000, policy makers and education officials have diligently sought to improve schools by improving the quality of individual teachers. However, even if those teachers are skilled and committed, the schools where they work are all too often disjointed, dysfunctional organizations that serve no one well.

In Where Teachers Thrive, Susan Moore Johnson, Director of the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at Harvard, argues convincingly that schools must support teachers’ best work if they are to provide a first-rate education for all students. Based on rich case studies in fourteen high-poverty, urban schools, Where Teachers Thrive examines why some schools failed to make progress, while others achieved remarkable results. It explores the challenges that administrators and teachers faced and describes what worked, what didn’t work, and why.  It explains how educators within a school can join together to adopt systems of practice that ensure growth and success by all teachers and their students.

Where Teachers Thrive is available from Harvard Education Press 

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Praise for Where Teachers Thrive

Susan Moore Johnson makes a profound contribution to the development of the teaching profession at the very time it is most needed. The agenda for school success and achieving equity is now before us. — Michael Fullan, professor emeritus and former dean, University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

In this exceptional book, Susan Moore Johnson urges readers to strengthen the features of teachers’ work environments that shape their ability to succeed with students. Where Teachers Thrive should be required reading for decision makers who care about deep and lasting educational improvement.Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers

 

Where Teachers Thrive presents compelling evidence that efforts to recruit and retain knowledgeable and dedicated teachers will likely fail unless they are coupled to a strategic focus on the schools in which teachers work. — Judith Warren Little, Carol Liu Professor of Education Policy, emerita, University of California, Berkeley

In this important and timely book, Susan Moore Johnson argues that professional working conditions are the key to teachers thriving professionally. School leaders must foster an organizational culture that multiplies the impact of every teacher on student achievement. Johnson’s book points the way.Kim Marshall, editor, Marshall Memo

Recent Publications and Working Papers

Books, Monographs, and a Website

A USER'S GUIDE TO PEER ASSISTANCE AND REVIEW

Peer Assistance and ReviewA website based on the experiences of seven local districts with Peer Assistance and Review. By Susan Moore Johnson, Sarah E. Fiarman, Mindy Sick Munger, John P. Papay, and Emily Kalejs Qazilbash. Visit website here.

REDESIGNING TEACHER PAY: A SYSTEM FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF EDUCATORS

Redesigning Teacher PayThis book analyzes performance-based pay plans and proposes a plan for a career-based compensation system. By Susan Moore Johnson and John P. Papay, published by the Economic Policy Institute. Visit the website here.

FINDERS AND KEEPERS: HELPING NEW TEACHERS SURVIVE AND THRIVE IN OUR SCHOOLS

Finders and KeepersBy Susan Moore Johnson and The Project on the Next Generation of Teachers. Winner of the 2005 American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education's (AACTE) Outstanding Writing Award for a Book.

 

WHO STAYS IN TEACHING AND WHY: A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ON TEACHER RETENTION

Who Stays and WhyS. M. Johnson, J. H. Berg, & M. L. Donaldson, January 2005.

A DIFFICULT BALANCE: INCENTIVES AND QUALITY CONTROL IN ALTERNATIVE CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS

A Difficult Balanceby Susan Moore Johnson, Sarah E. Birkeland, Heather G. Peske, with Mindy Sick Munger, September 2005.

Most Frequently Cited Publications