Short-term. Sporadic. Disconnected: Just a few of the words used to describe current professional development for teachers. School leaders are stretched too thin to provide routine feedback and coaching – and they aren’t in the classroom with teachers day to day.
Without more guidance and support, too many teachers are being robbed of the opportunity to achieve the higher level of success with students of which they are capable.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. TeacherLedProfessionalLearning.org aims to catalyze changes to ensure that all teachers have the chance to learn on the job and that great teachers can lead on the job.
“Our nation’s best teachers must lead the way to excellence for all students. To do that, they must be able to help their peers learn and pursue excellence, too, while teaching,” said Emily Ayscue Hassel, co-director of Public Impact and a member of the team of Pahara-Aspen Teacher-Leader Fellows who created the website. “This is not a political issue–it’s a practical one. On-the-job teacher leadership and on-the-job teacher learning are inextricably connected.”
The website starts with a simple premise:
Schools already have their greatest professional development resource on hand: great teachers who are ready to take on leadership roles, who could lead professional development that is a natural part of everyday school work. Instead of continuing to spend great sums on low-impact professional development, schools must allow these teachers to continue teaching while helping their peers improve.
To design high-quality, teacher-led professional learning, the website offers overviews and links to resources for every step, from schools, districts, and supporting organizations across the U.S.:
- Defining teacher-leader roles: Descriptions of teacher-leadership roles that put great teachers in charge of developing their peers
- Selecting teacher-leaders: Information on skills and competencies that teacher-leaders need to help their peers improve instruction and achieve positive student impact
- Training for teacher-leaders: Descriptions and links for well-regarded national teacher-leader training programs
- Finding time for teacher-led professional learning: Multiple ways to find time during the school day for frequent, teacher-led, job-embedded, collaborative development
- Funding for teacher leadership: Funding methods for on-the-job teacher leadership
- Leading successful teams: Research and resources on successful team leadership
- Evaluating teacher-leaders: Methods for developing effective evaluation for teacher-leaders
The new website was developed by a team of the Pahara-Aspen Teacher-Leader Fellows with a common mission but differing backgrounds—teacher-leaders, union leaders, nonprofit leaders, and others. The fellows’ goal is to help teachers and their schools, unions, and districts implement collaborative, job-embedded professional learning that leads to better student learning by developing and using the skills of involved teacher-leaders.
The Teacher-Leader Fellows who conceived of the website (listed below) believe teacher-leaders need their own training and development, time to collaborate with and help peers during the school day, and supportive administrators who ensure that professional learning is part of everyday teaching. They believe that teacher-leaders should lead the great majority of professional development in schools—and be paid and empowered to develop excellence among teaching peers.
Teachers consistently report wanting more collaboration and opportunities to develop. With high-quality professional learning led by great teacher-leaders on the job, all teachers win—and students can reap the rewards.
About the Pahara-Aspen Teacher-Leader Fellows: In 2011, 20 teacher-leaders were named as Pahara-Aspen Teacher-Leader Fellows. The fellowship was designed to cultivate and support a cohort of teacher-leaders—including classroom teachers as well as union leaders and other advocates—who are working to strengthen and improve the profession of teaching and the educational outcomes of America’s K–12 students. The Pahara Institute organized the fellowship.
The Teacher-Led Professional Learning Project Team Members:
Audrey Soglin: executive director, Illinois Education Association
Mark Sass: social sciences teacher, Legacy High School, Denver, CO; 2014 Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow
Cynthia Robinson-Rivers: former director of Teacher Retention and Recognition, D.C. Public Schools
Christopher Poulos: Spanish teacher, Joel Barlow High School, Redding, CT; Teacher-Leader in Residence, CT State Department of Education; vice president, National Network of State Teachers of the Year; Connecticut Teacher of the Year 2007
David Low: high school science teacher, The Sound School, New Haven, CT; 2013 New Haven Teacher of the Year; vice president of high schools, New Haven Federation of Teachers
Tony Klemmer: founder and president, National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education and The Center for Better Schools
Emily Ayscue Hassel: co-director, Public Impact
Celine Coggins: founder and chief executive officer, Teach Plus
Also Contributing to the Group’s Early Discussions:
Andrew Vanden Heuvel: physics teacher, 2011 Michigan Online Teacher of the Year
Paul Toner: former president, Massachusetts Teachers Association
Kerrie Dallman: president, Colorado Education Association
Jean Clements: president, Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association