Common Core

Leading Educators Launches Innovative Teacher Development Strategy with TPS



Adan Garcia

(202) 510-0827



Professional learning approach will dramatically expand supports for content mastery


TULSA, Okla. - May 14, 2018

Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) launched Empower, a dynamic professional learning strategy that will incorporate focused collaboration into the day-to-day work of teachers, in 10 schools this weekend.

Building on the district’s “Destination Excellence” vision of inspiring and preparing every student to love learning and achieve ambitious goals, Empower creates weekly opportunities for teams of teachers in a content area to lead collaborative learning and practice in rigorous standards and pedagogical best practices.  The program, developed in partnership with Leading Educators, stems from a central belief that schools are a critical unit of social change, and teacher leaders should be drivers of that change in pursuit of equity. In order for schools and districts to achieve equitable student outcomes, all students need to consistently experience rigorous and joyful learning and great teaching.  

Danielle Neves, the Executive Director of Teaching and Learning for TPS, shared, “Meeting our ambitious goals for students will require outstanding learning for our educators that is grounded in content and curricula, happening day-to-day and week-to-week in schools, and led by and for teachers.  Leading Educators is supporting us, but it is our work as a district, our vision, our ambitious goals for students.”

Leading Educators began planning with TPS one year ago to ensure that conditions and leadership at all levels of the district would be prepared for an effective roll-out.  The program is designed to gradually scale over a multi-year arc so support structures and planning systems become fully embedded in the district’s operations. This approach offers greater consistency and relevance relative to traditional, outside professional development options and focuses district-led work on iterative practice known to directly effect to student learning.

Leading Educators has worked with Education Resource Strategies to help school leaders align time, people, and money to schools’ priorities.  Each Empower school’s content-specific teams will experience 90 minutes of collaborative learning time within their master schedule each week - an increase of 30 minutes over previous years. TNTP supported this planning by conducting classroom walkthroughs meant to assess current instruction across the district.  

The Empower program’s first cohort of 55 educators was inducted on Saturday, May 12th in Tulsa.

“We believe we can accomplish something incredible together in Tulsa that radically changes expectations for what our teachers and students can collectively achieve when effectively supported to master strong content,” said Chong-Hao Fu, Leading Educators’ current Chief Learning Officer and incoming Chief Executive Officer.

Photo courtesy of Tulsa Public Schools

Photo courtesy of Tulsa Public Schools



Leading Educators is a national nonprofit organization founded in New Orleans that seeks to improve student achievement by leveraging the positive impact of experienced teachers who take on leadership positions in their schools.  We partner with states, districts, and public charter networks to design learning systems that develop the instructional skills and content knowledge of teachers so they can reach better, more equitable student outcomes.

New Orleans Teacher-Leaders Go National: The ECET2 Conference

Earlier this spring, Leading Educators took four Fellows to the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers (ECET2) Conference to share their experiences of teacher-leadership development with other educators from around the country. 

Our two Fellows from New Orleans were struck by the powerful work going on all over the US. In their own words: 

New Orleans Fellow Danielle Bienville reads to her first grade class.
"The most significant thing that I learned was that we are not alone! The educational challenges are real and there are like-minded people across this nation who are striving for the best for our children.  This conference also made me realize how much we do not collaborate in our city or our state.  There is so much competition that if it were not for LE, we would  all be on our own little charter islands.  We must collaborate because two heads are so much better than one and this battle cannot be won alone.
As I move into a new school and new role it will be vital for me to create new relationships and also hold onto old ones, connections between schools must be made, even if a true district does not exist. We can build great ideas together and share triumphs in order to optimize time and increase student achievement. We are ONE!"

-Bridget Burns, a Director of Curriculum and Instruction in Cohort 2011 

"I learned that many teachers and schools around the country are working towards perfecting planning and implementations around the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). I had conversations around the many tools schools are using (i.e. the Literacy Design Collaborative) in order to get students to dig in deep with the texts and content they are studying. Additionally, the sheer collaboration and willingness to share resources, ideas, and tools was inspiring. Teachers around the country who are doing it well want to share with those who are further behind in the spirit of student achievement.
I will bring from the conference a deeper awareness of the CCSS and will be able to explain the reasoning for these standards. I feel I will also be able to advocate for training and resources for teachers around these instructional shifts because I have talked to and witnessed teachers implementing them successfully, specifically in the upper grades.
It was humbling to be surrounded by teachers who have been teaching 15, 20, and even 30 years, a landscape that is increasingly disappearing in New Orleans. These teachers are still perfecting their craft in front of students on a daily basis while they are also able to serve as teacher-leaders. They mentor by example to interns, student teachers, and other veteran teachers. They are tapped to lead professional developments and attend conferences such as ECET2. The experience reaffirmed that I don't need to step out of the classroom in order to lead."

—Danielle Bienville, a Master Teacher of First Grade in New Orleans Cohort 2011