Teacher Leader

Leading Educators May Newsletter

Dear Friends of Leading Educators:

Last week was national "Teacher Appreciation Week." At Leading Educators, we have the opportunity to see the amazing things teacher leaders are doing every week to develop and support their colleagues and their students. We deeply appreciate this hard work and the critical, exponential impact it is having on student learning. As you'll see throughout this list of our latest accomplishments and developments, Leading Educators has been working hard to ensure that more teacher leaders have the opportunities and skills to make the impact they seek:

  • During Teacher Appreciation Week, our Chief Program Officer, Chong-Hao Fu, and I wrote about teacher leadership as a force to improve schools for all students; how three types of teacher leadership roles are busting cages to improve student learning; the untold story of New Orleans' big education export; a DC superintendent's perspective on teacher leadership; and thebridges that are key to effective teacher-leader roles.
  • Leading Educators has released our 2014 Annual Report, which features some of our Fellows' impact on teachers they lead, principals they support, and students they serve. Check it out on our website here:www.leadingeducators.org/impact
  • Our latest white paper, Building Bridges: Connecting Teacher Leadership and Student Success, focuses on roles that make teacher leadership successful.
  • In the last two months, we did strategic consulting work with Hiawatha Academies in Minneapolis and provided training for Teach For America alumni in Connecticut. We are also finalizing contracts with the New York City Department of Education, the Michigan Department of Education, and DC Public Schools. 
  • The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is now supporting our work as we take on the important tasks of developing teacher leaders and their teams in high-needs schools. 
  • The Carnegie Corporation of New York is supporting our development and launch of online classes that we will be offering to teacher leaders across the country for the first time this fall. These classes will focus on coaching others, leading teams, student culture, performance management, and Common Core State Standards in Literacy and Math. 
  • Leading Educators continues to be at the forefront of the national discussion of the teacher leadership movement. In the last few months, Chong-Hao and I have presented at conferences hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers, National Board of Professional Teaching Standards' Teaching and Learning, Iowa State Administrators, Teach For America, Educators 4 Excellence, National Network of State Teachers of the Year, Teach to Lead, ECET2 Kentucky, Massachusetts and New York City Departments of Education, Denver Public Schools, and Urban School Human Capital Academy.

Leading Educators has worked with over 700 teacher leaders so far this year. I am honored to be a part of this growing movement. I hope you will share any feedback or questions you have for me or our team, and that you'll join me in celebrating teachers for all that they do year-round!

Best regards,

Jonas Chartock

DC Fellow Presents Teacher Leadership Project at National Summit

In December, Adrianna Riccio, a 2nd year DC Fellow, took her commitment to her teacher leadership one step further by winning a spot at Teach to Lead’s Louisville, KY Summit for teacher leaders. The Summit was one of three events hosted by the Department of Education under U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s initiative to support and grow teacher leadership across the country. Adrianna was chosen to attend after submitting her idea for a teacher leadership project to Teach to Lead via their Commit to Lead platform.

Adrianna’s idea was based on her own work. She has been working on a comprehensive coaching program in her school to best employ the expertise of veteran teachers in her building to provide guidance and support to those in their first three years on the job. Since Fairfax County Public Schools already provides coaches for first year teachers, Adrianna’s coaching program is centered on leveraging 8 highly effective teachers at Glasgow as instructional coaches for second and third year teachers.

Adrianna said, “In this program, each teacher in their 2nd and 3rd year will receive an instructional coach that will meet with them once per month to help them perfect their teaching craft. These meetings will be non-evaluative and will use a variety of coaching methods. The coaching team will help with disseminating data and holding data dialogues as well as address any classroom issues that may arise. Most importantly, these teacher leaders will be seen as a resource for all teachers in the building.”

Adrianna stands at the front of the Kentucky Regional Summit (wearing a grey cardigan and glasses). Image courtesy of Teach to Lead

Overall, Adrianna is trying to cultivate a collaborative space for the teachers at Glasgow to share best practices in a meaningful way that both empowers educators to lead as well as learn from their peers. Some other elements they may incorporate include peer observations, TeachMeets (mini conferences held by teachers for teachers), and professional development opportunities.

Not only did Adrianna and her school team qualify for the Louisville Summit with this idea, but their interpretation of what teacher leadership could look like in their school proved to be very popular. Adrianna describes the Summit as a great generative space to collaborate and innovate with like-minded and driven educators from across the country. It was a huge growth opportunity and we hope many more of our teacher leaders get to experience it.


U.S. Secretary of Education Hosts Roundtable with Members of New Orleans Teacher Leader Program

NEW ORLEANS – December 9, 2014 – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will meet with Leading Educators Fellows at Arthur Ashe Charter School to hear from teacher leaders about what it takes to be successful and what further support schools, states, and the Department of Education can offer. As part of the Secretary’s Teach to Lead initiative to promote teacher leadership, Duncan will share a roundtable with five Leading Educators Teacher Leader Fellows and their principals, two of whom are alumni of the New Leaders program, in New Orleans Thursday afternoon. A parent from each school will sit in on the discussion.

“Strong school leadership has been crucial to the progress seen in New Orleans schools. I applaud organizations like Leading Educators and New Leaders that prepare teachers and principals to do this incredibly challenging – but critical – work,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Great school leadership makes great teaching possible and helps ensure that every student graduates prepared for college, careers and life.”

Secretary Duncan will ask the roundtable participants to share stories of success and challenge in working to support and develop both their students and their colleagues. Teacher leaders and their principals, several of whom are alumni of the Leading Educators Fellowship, will join the roundtable from Arthur Ashe Charter School, ReNEW Dolores T. Aaron Academy, Samuel Green Charter School, New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School, and KIPP Believe College Prep.

“Secretary Duncan’s visit signifies the administration’s commitment to understanding experiences of teacher leaders and the impact of a national movement of educators who seek to support and develop their students and their colleagues,” said Chief Executive Officer Jonas Chartock.

Leading Educators is an official partner of the national Teach to Lead initiative, which seeks to expand opportunities for teacher leadership. The organization has been working with teacher leaders in New Orleans since 2008 and remains headquartered in the city.

“It’s only fitting that Secretary Duncan is looking to New Orleans for examples of model teacher leadership – teacher leaders are a significant force in the improvement of the city’s schools,” said Greater New Orleans Executive Director Julie Bourgeois. “Our teacher leaders have led initiatives that have had a real impact on student learning and school culture.”

Leading Educators works to advance teachers’ leadership skills and opportunities, building a national movement to ensure all students have the opportunity to succeed in school and life.

Teach to Lead is an initiative jointly convened by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the U.S. Department of Education to advance student outcomes by expanding opportunities for teacher leadership, particularly those that allow teachers to stay in the classroom.


Work with 21 D.C. Schools Aims to Retain Effective Educators and Drive School Wide Achievement Gains

July 9, 2014 (Washington DC)—Principals and teachers from 17 D.C. public schools are gathering this week to identify challenges they want to tackle in the coming school year and the leadership roles teachers can play in driving this positive change. The effort is being facilitated by Leading Educators, a nonprofit organization that partners with districts to identify leadership opportunities for teachers and train them in the management skills necessary to be successful. This year, Leading Educators is working with 21 DCPS schools up from seven in 2013-14.

During this week’s kick-off, principals and teachers will outline their work for the coming school year, set goals and assign responsibilities for teachers. The effort gives teachers the chance to take on larger roles within their schools while remaining in the classroom working with their students. Some of the challenges they may take on are leading intervention programs for students who are behind their grade level, creating model classrooms where teachers can observe effective instructional practices, and developing strategies for lowering suspension rates, among others. 

“D.C. public schools are at the forefront of teacher leadership development and understand the power of great educators to lead their peers to better student outcomes,” said Jonas Chartock, CEO of Leading Educators. “Through our work with these 21 schools, we are helping them identify the right roles for these teachers and developing the skills all successful leaders need. Our early results in D.C. show that this work has the potential to dramatically improve the retention rates of excellent teachers and increase student achievement across the board. We’re very excited about what we’re seeing here.”

In its first year partnering with DCPS, Leading Educators worked with seven schools. By the end of the year, one school noticed a significant decrease in office referrals after creating a Special Education Department; another school that started a blending learning program has received a grant to expand the work so that each student will have access to technology throughout the day; another school improved continuity of curriculum to ensure that each grade appropriately builds on the previous one. Several schools overhauled the way they use data by utilizing data coaches and weekly review cycles to closely monitor when students are growing or struggling.

Partner schools for 2014-15 are:

  • Stanton ES*
  • Wheatley EC*
  • Tyler ES*
  • CW Harris*
  • Janney ES*
  • Ballou SHS
  • Beers ES
  • Brightwood EC
  • Cardozo EC
  • Eastern SHS
  • Garrison ES
  • Jefferson MS
  • Ketcham ES
  • Langley ES
  • McKinley Technology SHS
  • Powell ES
  • Seaton ES
  • Tubman ES
  • Truesdell EC
  • Eliot-Hine MS

*Leading Educators Partner in 2013-14

For more information about Leading Educators, visit leadingeducators.org.

Leading Educators is a non-profit organization that seeks to improve student achievement by accelerating the positive impact of experienced teachers who take on leadership positions in their schools. We partner with districts, schools and individual educators to develop their management skills so they can lead their peers to better student outcomes. In doing so, we help retain our best educators, refresh the talent pipeline and improve outcomes from the classroom.

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.