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Teacher-Leader Career Track

April 10, 2016

COASCD logo smallAt Colorado ASCD’s  ESSA Symposium for Superintendents and district leaders, one particular remark by Dr. Ken Haptonstall, the Superintendent for Garfield School District has stayed with me as I ponder the role of “teacher leader” in a school or district. He said that 70% of his high school teachers have their administrator license, but none of them has any interest in being a principal.   At the same event, district leaders were speaking with great concern about the teacher turnover rate.   I started wondering: What if we created a program that extended the current Colorado induction program, to provide an ongoing peer coaching program,  that could also provided a career ladder for those teachers who want to learn and grow, have an opportunity to advance, but don’t want to leave the classroom? Could developing this address these two needs at once?

As I sat in the Symposium, I tweeted my thoughts on this, and received this reply from Lisa Bejarano:

I do think National Board Certification is a fantastic program, however, I see its focus as being on what happens inside of the classroom.  The program I envision would be to build teacher-leaders who have additional skill sets that can serve in a leadership role outside of the classroom. What I envision is either a graduate level degree or certification program offered through our state universities that would help develop good classroom teachers into teacher-leaders.  The types of coursework might include:

  • Cognitive coaching
  • Leadership
  • Designing professional learning for adults
  • State education law
  • Privacy law
  • Project based Learning
  • Personalized Learning
  • Technology workflow
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Digital literacy
  • Time management
  • Brain-based learning
  • Understanding by Design

Teachers who receive this certification could become key voices in district and school development. Here are ideas for these important roles they could assume:

  • Mentoring teachers
  • Peer Coaching
  • Standards alignment work
  • Creators of backwards-designed project based learning and units of inquiry
  • Writer of common assessments
  • Professional learning provider
  • Curator of learning materials (digital and print) aligned to standards
  • Advisor to school board

 

Of course, there would need to be some incentive offered by school districts to encourage teachers to participate in this level of career development. Here are some ideas:peer mentor2

  • Career Advancement for those who don’t want to be a principal: Promotion – pay scale –higher than teacher +MA – perhaps equivalent to a Dean or Assistant Principal
  • Recognition –with all stakeholder groups
  • Voice –in state, district and school decision-making
  • Paid release time to peer-mentor & coach teachers, design learning and assessments, and curate resources

What are your thoughts? Teachers, would you be interested in a career ladder that allowed you to earn more pay yet remain in the classroom?  Administrators, can you see a benefit to having teacher-leaders in your school who can be peer mentors and provide support to teachers who are struggling to transform and build future-ready classrooms?

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