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New Report Identifies Three Objectives for Implementing Successful State-Level Teacher Leadership

For not only spurring progressive educational change, but sustaining it at state and local levels, building up strong teacher leadership is crucial.

Chiefs for Change (CFC), a coalition of state education chiefs and district superintendents, have laid out their overview for elevating the teaching profession through teacher leadership and look at how three states are addressing the issue.  

It’s important to note that the plan is referring to teacher leaders who advocate and lead policy initiatives at the state level. The term “teacher leader” isn’t in reference to any specific title in a school.

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states are required to consult with a variety of educational stakeholders ranging from teachers to superintendents to address educational issues and engage in solutions-oriented plans to boost student success.

Acknowledging that educator input through traditional workgroups, forums, and councils can falter because of limited duration or inaccessibility to the highest-performing educators, the CFC outlined three objectives for a healthy teacher leadership plan.

Empowering teachers to create and sustain effective education policies: Positive and lasting change is not going to come from a sole individual, but an array of inspired and innovative educational stakeholders. In order to improve student success, it’s important that the most effective teachers be leveraged with opportunities to advocate for policies they’re strongly knowledgeable about.

Building a culture of innovation and shared responsibility toward constant improvement: For an evolving educational culture to prosper, there must be constant and transparent communication with teacher leaders. Building meaningful relationships with large and small groups of educators and taking into account their skills and experience should be highly valued when creating such a culture. Teacher leaders should serve as a valued stakeholder in the educational dialogue.

Using teacher leaders to address and solve critical issues or challenges at the school and district levels: The worst thing states or districts can do is develop “teacher leader” initiatives without any clear focus or end goal in sight simply for the sake of “checking a box.” Just like any professional, teachers want to know their time and input is being valued and their policy advocating efforts are not in vain. This should especially hold true in policies and issues that states can’t make informed decisions on without consulting those on the front lines doing the work.

The brief touched upon how three states, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Tennessee are bringing teacher leaders into the fold and addressing the objectives mentioned above. Louisiana’s teacher leader initiative, for example, has two networks of teacher leaders: a core group selected at the state level and larger state-wide network selected by districts and schools. Additionally, a vision was set to identify and provide teachers with high-quality tools and resources training.

The complete CFC briefing and teacher leadership plans for state chiefs can be seen here.


Article by Joel Stice, Education World Contributor

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