Networks of Teachers Affect Children in Transition (Project NTACT)

How do middle-school teachers’ relationships with colleagues contribute to classroom practice and students’ adjustment?

Through strong relationships, teachers can rely on other teachers to discuss instructional strategies, seek advice, and collaborate. Many call for the creation and reinforcement of such networks as an education reform strategy. Little is known, however, about how teacher networks shift over time, how they affect classroom practices, and whether professional development programs change them. Hamm will leverage a randomized cluster trial funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to evaluate Supporting Early Adolescents Learning and Social Success (SEALS), which equips teachers with evidence-based strategies to foster engaging and supportive learning environments. Teams of teachers also receive direct consultation to strengthen collective learning and decision-making. Hamm and her colleagues will investigate (1) whether the SEALS intervention affects the relationships among team-based teachers, (2) whether these networks facilitate or constrain changes in classroom practices and students’ social and academic adjustment, and (3) how teacher networks that are not exposed to the intervention change over time. The study’s sample includes approximately 475 teachers and 5000 sixth-grade students from 28 metropolitan middle schools in North Carolina.