CT3 Looks to Great Teachers to Develop More Great Teachers

James M. Loy, Miami University

Back when she was an area superintendent for a struggling urban school district, Kristyn Klei Borrero saw no existing solution to a pressing problem.

So she set out to create one.

Kristyn Klei BorreroKristyn Klei Borrero “Classroom management was the big problem,” Klei Borrero says. “The teachers really struggled at the beginning of the year, setting up classrooms that could become spaces for high-level critical thinking, for both the teacher and the students. We tried to bring in every classroom management model. It didn't work for my kids. Didn’t work for my teachers. So, I had this ‘Aha! Moment’ of, well, if I'm going to complain about it, and it's not out there, then we've got to fix it.” 

Today, Klei Borrero is the CEO and co-founder of CT3, which is now used by K-12 schools across the country. Her mission is to help teachers quickly connect with young learners, especially those who come from diverse or historically marginalized urban and rural communities.

She is also the author of the new book, Every Student, Every Day: A No-Nonsense Nurturer Approach to Reaching All Learners, which represents the most recent incarnation of her original epiphany.

“The book is my attempt to bring the work that we've been working on at CT3 to more folks,” Klei Borrero says. “A book is another way. We have online courses. [We] have the coaching protocols. But it's really another way to engage in the body of work, and to build credibility for the work.”

The road to CT3

For Klei Borrero, this work is all part of her life’s work. As a teacher, as a researcher, and as a leader, Klei Borrero has demonstrated an enduring commitment to improving education.

After graduating from Miami University with a degree in education, Klei Borrero worked as a classroom teacher, and then as an administrator for underperforming schools in California, where she oversaw significant improvements in academic performance, student satisfaction, teacher retention, and more.

Later, while completing a doctorate in educational leadership at the University of California, Berkeley, Klei Borrero also researched and established the professional development models that would eventually lead to CT3.

Co-founded in 2009, along with educational consultant Lee Canter, CT3 combines two transformative concepts known as “Real Time Teacher Coaching” and the “No-Nonsense Nurturer.” Each model gives teachers the tools and support to effectively manage classrooms and to provide culturally relevant instruction in diverse and dynamic learning environments.

Real Time Teacher Coaching

The real-time coaching protocols are just that. By using a small earpiece during class, teachers are able to get non-disruptive feedback from experienced CT3 coaches. Afterward, teachers reflect upon the experience during post-class conference sessions.

According to CT3, this method not only builds confidence and improves performance “in days and weeks, not months or years.” It also challenges a long-standing and problematic educational convention.

“I'm going to use a sports analogy,” Klei Borrero says. “Serena Williams has the best tennis coaches in the world. And if she were given delayed feedback, she’d fire her coaches. If they watched her hit balls and said, ‘I'll get back to you in a couple of days.’ She'd fire them. However, in education, we've said, ‘We're going to observe teachers, and give them delayed feedback, and then hope and pray that that delayed feedback resonates.”

This analogy also means that everyone can benefit from solid coaching, especially the best of the best. And this is another convention that Klei Borrero seeks to change.

“We have created this paradigm in education, over the course of the last 50-60 years, that coaching is only for the new or the struggling,” she explains. So at CT3, coaching is not just for those that are new or struggling. In fact, high-performing teachers are going to feel much more invested.”

No-Nonsense Nurturers

Also at the core of CT3 is another concept now widely recognized as the No-Nonsense Nurturer, which is also discussed extensively in Klei Borrero’s new book. 

Essentially, No-Nonsense Nurturing is a philosophy that describes how many successful teachers have already encouraged their students to excel. 

Teachers that become No-Nonsense Nurturers typically identify and play off student strengths, rather than weaknesses. They use culturally competent strategies to build inclusiveness, especially for marginalized or diverse students. They also see themselves as facilitators, not knowledge-holders. And they strive to learn from their students, just as their students learn from them.

However, these are also teachers who set clear rules. They have high expectations. They hold students accountable, and they follow through on consequences.

According to Klei Borrero, the No-Nonsense Nurturer approach detailed throughout her book really does work. And not because she says it should. But because of all the hard research, classroom observations, and years of personal experience that she’s poured onto the page.

“The reason why it works is because that's what your great colleagues do,” Klei Borrero says. “I just put language to it, and the associates at CT3 helped to codify it even more. Codifying the best practices of our highest performing educators, that's what the body of work is. It's looking to great teachers to train other great teachers. I went out and studied and watched what great teachers did. I just put it down on paper, so that others could have access to that.”