Teachers as Leaders: What It Takes
According to the newly released Teacher Leader Model Standards, it's time to move to a shared leadership model in schools—and teacher leadership is one of the most powerful approaches available.
Produced by the Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium, the Teacher Leader Model Standards define the knowledge, skills, and competencies that teachers need to assume leadership roles. The standards focus on seven "domains" that describe what teacher leaders do. Teacher leaders (1) foster a collaborative culture to support educator development and student learning; (2) use research to improve practice and student learning; (3) promote professional learning for continual improvement; (4) facilitate improvements in instruction and student learning; (5) promote the use of assessments and data for school and district improvement; (6) improve outreach and collaboration with families and community; and (7) advocate for student learning and the teaching profession.
The document highlights five important characteristics of teacher leadership:
- It differs from other school leader roles. "Teacher leaders model effective practices, exercise their influence in formal and informal contexts, and support collaborative team structures within their schools" (p. 11).
- It can enhance the capacity of the principal.
- It supports strategies and behaviors linked to increasing student achievement.
- It requires a shift in the culture of schools. Teachers need to be "accepted as leaders among their peers" (p. 12).
- It necessitates new organizational structures and roles in schools to successfully meet the needs of 21st century learners. Teacher leaders "need recognized responsibilities, authority, time to collaborate, and support from school administrators to assume leadership roles" (p. 12).
The Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium includes 10 educators, as well as representatives from various national organizations, higher education institutions, and state education departments. To view the new standards, go to www.teacherleaderstandards.org.
In Victoria, Australia, 100 math and science specialists will be recruited from industry and other nonteaching fields to build the skills of primary school teachers in these areas. The policy will cost $24.3 million dollars over the next five years. When asked why high school teachers weren't included in this program, education minister Martin Dixon said that by focusing on primary students, the initiative would "address the worrying trend of students turning away from maths and science in secondary school."
Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the Worldby Tina Rosenberg (W. W. Norton, 2011)
"The typical attempt to solve a social ill focuses on giving people information, or it tries to motivate people through fear… This book tells the story of people who have successfully used a different way, one based on changing behavior by helping people obtain what they most care about: the respect of their peers." (p. xix)
The power of coaching springs from the power of peers to support and influence one another. In this book, Rosenberg explores how positive peer pressure can change people's behavior and facilitate social change. She includes inspiring stories from around the world—of resistance workers who organize to overthrow a dictatorship in Serbia; of groups of families who deepen their religious beliefs in affluent suburbia; of a sisterhood of lower-class women who train to become health workers in rural India; of study groups that raise the calculus achievement of black and Hispanic students on college campuses. Through these stories, Rosenberg describes how people's innate need to belong can help solve problems.
Numbers of Note
The percentage of U.S. public schools with reading coaches in the 2007–08 school year.*
The percentage of U.S. public schools with math coaches in the 2007–08 school year.
The percentage of U.S. public schools with science coaches in the 2007–08 school year.
*Numbers reflect only positions labeled as "coaches"; 79.8 schools reported that they employed "reading specialists."
Source: National Center for Education Statistics. (2009). 2007–08 Schools and Staffing Survey. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009321/tables/sass0708_2009321_s12n_06.asp
Tools for Coaches
Find a trove of literacy coaching tools at the Literacy Coaching Clearinghouse Archive website. Created by the International Reading Association, the clearinghouse contains full-text articles, booklists, coaching protocols, and more.
For example, users can find
The clearinghouse has separate sections for literacy coaches, reading coaches, reading specialists, and "instructional coaches"—coaches who typically help secondary-level teachers raise students' literacy by embedding work on literacy skills within instruction in all content areas.
"The carrot and stick may, on occasion, prod people to meet minimum standards, but only high-trust connections can inspire greatness."
—Bob Tschannen-Moran and Megan Tschannen-Moran, p. 10