Friday, January 29, 2016

Teacher Leadership in Iowa- a Change, a Challenge, and a Chance

Now that all four of my districts have been approved to receive the Governor's Teacher Leadership and Compensation grant, I think it's important to put out some information for teachers interested in becoming teacher leaders.

How it works:
   The grant team in our district looked at numerous data points, reported needs, and student learning goals to develop leadership positions that can have a major impact on student achievement.  Since each district serves a unique population, TLC plans look different from one district to another.
   According to the TLC legislation, our team was to create enough leadership positions so at least 25% of the staff could potentially become a teacher leader.  This may range from being a member of a TLC Selection Committee, a District Leadership Team, or building leadership team, to being an instructional coach, technology integration coach, or curriculum and professional development leader.  Other positions include Model and Mentor teachers.
  Any teacher who is interested should speak with their building administrator.  Applications will be scored on a rubric, and interviews will be scheduled with the Selection Committee.  Ask your building administrators for more information on rubrics and how to apply.

Who should apply:
   The grant is for teachers looking to expand their role, learning, and influence on student achievement.  These positions are designed to equip and train teachers in best practice; you don't have to be the "best" or "most experienced" teacher to be qualified for a leadership position.  We're really looking for teachers that are willing to learn, lead, and try new and innovative best practice classroom teaching strategies.  You don't have to know or do the strategies already- just be ready to learn and collaborate on using a strategy.
   A common misconception is that teacher leaders will try and "fix" other teachers- there is no expectation for teacher leaders to do this.  Rather, teacher leaders will focus on students, improving outcomes for students, and impacting student learning.  No teacher leader will have evaluation responsibilities over other teachers.
   Every leadership position comes with plenty of training- mostly on Diane Sweeney's Student-Centered Coaching model for both K-8 and Secondary coaches.

What to expect:
  I'll be honest- no one in any of our districts has a clear-cut idea of what the daily tasks will look like for teacher leaders.  Since this is fairly new, we'll rely on your professionalism, passion, and excitement to impact student learning to help drive each leadership role.   The good news is that our District leadership teams can review the roles every year and adjust them as necessary.
   Every position will require extra time and effort- there's a stipend associated with each position to compensate your time.  It's quite possible you'll spend time working with students, presenting professional development, co-teaching, and heading to conferences and trainings.  Being in a leadership position definitely requires a growth mindset and a passion for working with teachers and students.
   At the end of each school year, teacher leaders will have an opportunity to reapply for the leadership position, or return to the classroom.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask me or your building administrator.  I'd really encourage those of you who are eligible to consider applying- especially if you are ready for a change, a challenge, and a chance to make a big difference for students.

For more information on the Teacher Leadership and Compensation grant in Iowa, including FAQs, CLICK HERE.

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