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Teacher Leader

Leadership Promotes Learning

Teacher leaders act as "instructional" leads by supporting the professional development of other educators and coaching fellow teachers who have less classroom experience. These types of leaders provide pedagogical assistance to peers in the areas such as classroom management, instructional strategies, demonstration teaching, implementation of curriculum, integration of technology, and utilization of test data.

Teacher leaders also act as "curriculum specialists" by sharing their expertise in a particular grade or subject area. They might, for example, help to select educational materials, develop appropriate curriculum, and use the latest technologies to design the best learning environment for students. Other responsibilities may include leading study groups around standards, assessments, and instruction; assisting teachers in setting goals for their professional development; or facilitating regular grade-level or subject-area planning meetings.

Teacher Leaders develop three strategies to create curriculum and instruction that push all students to higher levels of proficiency?

Strategy 1: Modeling learning
Teacher should model their excitement for learning among colleagues and students and let students know about what they have learned recently. Being a critical thinker aloud and modeling learning may be among the most important teaching done. Teachers also need to know what is taught in the grades above and below the one they teach, and they need to understand the continuum of learning in their subject areas. Only then can they plan together for successful transitions and build a curriculum that drives instruction an expectations.

Strategy 2: Providing compelling reasons for others to learn
Effective leaders continuously create compelling reasons for others to learn. Learning often takes great effort by the leaner, and most people need to see a payoff in order to put forth that effort. Teachers who have discovered eh secrets of having high expectations for al students and providing them with challenging, real-world learning do not have to spend time explaining to students why learning is useful.

A focus on higher student achievement can create a feeling of belonging among staff and can place the teacher in a leadership role with students. Almost all teachers find higher-level instruction to be more fun.

Strategy 3: Creating a coaching environment for continuous growth
Effective teachers use coaching activities to help students move toward and beyond high standards. A teacher knows that a student has reached the highest level of learning with the student is capable of self-evaluation.

Teacher Leaders play a variety of roles within their schools.

Some teacher leaders work in an organizational capacity as key members of a school leadership team by:

  • Facilitating and setting agendas for regular staff meetings;
  • Working to build collegiality among teachers;
  • Familiarizing the teaching staff with any new state requirements, Board policies, testing guidelines, etc.;
  • Ensuring that the teaching team is making progress toward school improvement plan goals;
  • Developing and implementing teacher recruitment plans;
  • Developing and disseminating brochures and newsletters to families, community members, etc.;
  • Documenting the work of the school and keep statistics on overall student development (attendance, test scores, graduation rates, accomplishments, etc.);
  • Coordinating the solicitation of grant funds; and
  • Coordinating student/parent/team meetings.

Sometimes teacher leaders may mentors pre-professional student teachers, assisting college students in making the successful transition to professional certification (link to http://www.theteachercenter.org/NewTeacher/GeneralInfo/understand_cert_lic.asp). Duties included in n this capacity might include:

  • coaching on classroom management skills;
  • assisting with lesson plan development and implementation;
  • observing and providing written and verbal feedback and guidance;
  • guiding and supporting transition from partial to full responsibility for the class; and
  • meet with the university supervisor to coordinate efforts on the intern's behalf.

Critical Success Factors

All teacher leaders understand leadership is the key to systemic improvement of schools and students achievement. One of SREB's Challenge to Lead goals state: "Every school has leadership that results in improved student performance- and leadership begins with an effective school principal."

Critical Success Factors for School Leaders include:

  1. Create a focused mission to improve student achievement and a vision of the school, curriculum, and instructional practices that make higher achievement possible.
  2. Set high expectations for all students to learn high-level content.
  3. Recognize and encourage implementation of good instructional practices that motivate and increase student achievement.
  4. Create a school organization where faculty and staff understand that every student counts and where every student has the support of a caring adult.
  5. Use data to initiate and continue improvement in school and classroom practices and student achievement.
  6. Keep everyone informed and focused on student achievement.
  7. Make parents partners in their student's education and create a structure for parent and educator collaboration.
  8. Understand the change process and have the leadership and facilitations skills to manage it effectively.
  9. Understand how adults learn and know how to advance meaningful change through quality sustained professional development that leads to increased student achievement.
  10. Organize and use time in innovative ways to meet the goals and objectives of school improvement.
  11. Acquire and use resources wisely.
  12. Obtain support from the central office, the community and parent leaders for the school improvement agenda.
  13. Continuously learn from and seek out colleagues who are abreast of new research and proven practices.

Acknowledgments:
Leadership Matters: Building Leadership Capacity
Preparing a New Breed of School Principals: It's Time for Action, Southern Regional Education Board, 2001.

Additional information on Leadership can be found in the following SREB reports:

Are SREB States Making Progress? Tapping, Preparing and Licensing School Leaders Who Can Influence Student Achievement

SREB publishes reports to inform educational leaders and policy-makers of progress being made in the redesign of leadership preparation and development. Policy reports provide information to help educational leaders and policy-makers as they develop policies to support leadership preparation and development. Newsletters help network members and others stay informed about promising practices and the initiative's work. For more information on these publications visit SREB's Leadership Initiative site.

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