How Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Improved Its Educators’ Job Satisfaction and Career Trajectories

Jun 5, 2024 10:55 AM ET
Campaign: Education
Two separate image of teachers and students

By Sheila Chelimo, Ph.D, Carmen Cortez, Jessica K. Jackson and D'Andre J. Weaver, Ph.D

Key Ideas

  • The Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program has led to an unintended impact: improved job satisfaction and increased opportunities for career advancement for teachers and coaches at participating schools.
  • Irving Independent School District was the initial inspiration for our research, which revealed that similar impact is being experienced in districts nationwide.
  • Our new white paper investigates these unintended effects in the context of six participating school districts across the country.

Verizon Innovative Learning Schools began in 2014 to help bridge barriers to digital inclusion. The partnership between Verizon and Digital Promise provides devices with data plans to every student and teacher at participating schools; this always-available access enables learning to occur both in and outside the classroom. The program also provides professional learning opportunities and support for instructional technology coaches to help teachers effectively blend technology into learning activities.

The program’s focus on extensive training for coaches and their work with teachers has produced its intended results—teachers’ confidence to use the technology, the frequency of its use, and their perceived technological skills and proficiency all increased over time. As a result, surveyed teachers said the program helped them explore new ways of teaching and enhanced student engagement.

But leaders at Digital Promise and Verizon began to notice something else happening, as well: Teachers and coaches in Verizon Innovative Learning Schools experienced increased opportunities for career advancement and improved job satisfaction.

Our new white paper investigates these unintended impacts in the context of six participating school districts and suggests why these effects have significance beyond the individual coaches and teachers themselves.

Verizon Innovative Learning Schools prepared me for my new position because it provided me with my first opportunity to step into and develop the skills for a coaching and quasi-leadership position.

Elizabeth Majano
Educational Technology Supervisor, Newark Public Schools

Irving Independent School District in Texas served as the inspiration for our research—“We lose coaches to jobs inside and outside the district all the time,” said James Tiggeman, Irving ISD’s director of STEM and innovation and Verizon Innovative Learning Schools district lead. More than half of the district’s educators who have served as coaches in the program since 2017 “have been promoted to new positions,” he said. And while job satisfaction is harder to tangibly measure, Tiggeman said teachers and coaches have often told him they might have quit “if they had not received the support that Verizon Innovative Learning Schools offered.”

A similar impact is being felt in other districts nationwide. Fifty-nine percent of surveyed teachers from Miami-Dade County Public Schools (Florida) and Jefferson County Public Schools (Kentucky) say the program provides leadership opportunities for them, and 61 percent said participating in Verizon Innovative Learning Schools improved their job satisfaction.

Our interviews with teachers and coaches revealed three reasons for their increased job satisfaction:

  1. The availability and effective use of technology impacts job satisfaction.
  2. Increased student engagement leads to better job satisfaction.
  3. The Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program creates better work-life balance.

While not every Verizon Innovative Learning Schools teacher or coach will ride the program to new job opportunities, we are encouraged that so many will carry the skills they have developed through the program with them wherever they go—or continue to enrich their communities where they are.

Read our new white paper, Unintended Impact: How the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Program Affected Its Educators’ Job Satisfaction and Career Trajectories, to find out how the program improves job satisfaction and prepares coaches and teachers for new career opportunities, and learn how your school or district can join Verizon Innovative Learning Schools.