transforming teaching.

Unless DC can attract, develop, and retain enough great teachers—particularly in the wake of the pandemic—an excellent, equitable education system will remain out of reach.

Transforming Teaching


The school shutdowns of the pandemic and resulting slides in student achievement and well-being laid bare the crucial role that school plays in the lives of children beyond the business of learning. 

School provides much-needed stability, socialization, and supervision. For many students, school is where basic needs are met: Prior to the pandemic, 77% of DC children relied on free or reduced-price school meals for the nutrition they need to learn and grow.

At the heart of this system is the teacher, for whom expectations and responsibilities have continually increased, even as the classroom environment has remained relatively unchanged for decades. 

In addition to the academic progress of the 20 to 30 students that make up their classroom, teachers are responsible for meeting their students’ heightened social-emotional needs, covering lunch and recess, and often even purchasing classroom supplies. The pandemic has exacerbated the problem as teachers have had to face immense health and safety concerns while delivering instruction through brand new platforms.

The tremendous progress DC’s education system has witnessed over the past 10 years is at risk. We know that teachers are the most important school-based factor for student achievement and growth. The pandemic increased the heavy burden DC teachers bear, leaving many feeling burned out and looking to leave the profession.

DC schools need to consider transforming the teacher role to set up teachers—and their students—for success.

Every year, the US needs to hire 300,000 teachers to fill spots opened by attrition.

  • Black teachers are departing teaching faster than White teachers: 22% national Black teacher attrition rate v. 15% national White teacher attrition rate.
  • The nation’s crisis is DC’s crisis: Teacher resignations in 2022 were 52% higher than in the years 2019-2021.


Today’s teachers are isolated, under-respected, overburdened, and mired in a rigid system ruled by the bell. District and LEA leaders can pull school system levers—hiring, curriculum, schedules, technology, use of space, etc.—to redesign current systems, creating teaching roles that are more attractive and sustainable, and more likely to contribute to students’ success.

Following rigorous research, a canvas of alternative models, and extensive conversations with practitioners in the field, we identified four design principles that address four common pain points experienced by teachers.

Common Pain Points

Design Principle



Integrated teams of teachers, staff, and (potentially) community members work together to meet educational and developmental needs of groups of students.



Schools invest trust in teachers as professionals, heeding their voice and providing them with meaningful opportunities to influence and shape the core functions of school. The wisdom and perspective of BIPOC teachers are given due weight.



Teachers move from being jacks-of-all-trades to taking on specific roles in supporting student learning and growth. Training and career pathways open opportunities (including leadership) for teachers and staff.



By focusing on impactful activities and employing technology, teachers can gain more flexibility in how they use time, allowing them to strategically prioritize, the way other types of busy professionals do.

CityBridge knows DC schools cannot go through the arduous process of redesign alone.

We commit to co-design, coordinate, and fund 50 school-level design projects to transform teaching over the next five years.

Fifty schools represent 25% of our city’s schools—a share that would have a significant impact on the ecosystem and, we believe, inspire a ripple effect of innovation. If we start this work now, DC can lead the nation in transforming teaching at scale.

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