Building Up Teacher-Leadership in Houston

This year, the Houston Independent School District (HISD) has partnered with TNTP to design and implement four teacher-leader roles as part of its In-School Collaborative Design pilot program. Across the district Instructional Practice Coaches, Intervention Specialists, Technology Peer Leaders, and Data Tracking and Analysis Specialists spend time outside of the classroom supporting teams of teachers at their schools. To introduce teacher-leaders to their new roles and provide them with intensive support throughout the 2012 – 2013 academic year, Leading Educators was tasked with designing and delivering a series of formal trainings and  small facilitated groups called Problem Solving Communities wherein teachers examine common challenges.

At the start of the school year, HISD teacher-leaders explored the foundations of leadership with our sessions Stepping up to Leadership and Influence without Authority. Their professional development then continued with role-specific, customized sessions: Stabilizing InstructionObservation and FeedbackProject ManagementNext Generation Instructional Technology, and Data Driven Instruction, respective to the different teacher-leader roles. Alongside this training, we developed two Problem Solving Communities (PSCs) to further familiarize role-alike participants to their new positions and to create a space for them to share best practices and troubleshoot common challenges. We also trained internal HISD Teacher Development Specialists (TDSs) in the facilitation of these PSCs in November and December.

“Since the first training, I’ve been using the tools,” said one teacher-leader in response to a written survey. “They help us to think about how we can work with teachers to make their jobs easier.”

The trainings built upon those tools last month with the third and final formal training day of the year, when all the teacher-leaders attended a Middle Leader, Know Thyself! session and then separated by role into sessions on Coaching for GROWthThe Growth Mindset, and

Next Generation Instructional Technology II. Two new PSCs were also designed for this spring semester, focusing on Time Management and Situational Leadership; HISD Teacher Development Specialists are leading these sessions in February and March.

One teacher - leader described the sessions as “Very positive and supportive. I feel with these individualized trainings, HISD is committed to teacher leadership roles. "In addition to participants’ anecdotal feedback, our partners in HISD and at TNTP have shared some very useful data on the outcomes of this year of training and support. The chart to the left maps survey responses aggregated from each of the three training days, and is complemented by the many inspiring anecdotes and verbal feedback the Leading Educators team has received from teacher-leaders who have found this professional development to be transformative.