The state should support teachers to take on leadership opportunities that allow them to continue teaching. This goal was new in 2017.
State Support for Teacher Leadership: Massachusetts encourages districts to implement teacher leadership opportunities, but the state does not have specific policies in place that ensure that these opportunities will be offered. During the 2014-2015 school year, Massachusetts partnered with 10 districts to create the Teacher Leadership Professional Learning Network. Resources from the partnership—such as case studies, lessons learned, and advice from the Advisory Cabinet—are provided on the state's website to "promote opportunities and conversations about how teacher leadership can be embedded within districts to support student learning and educator effectiveness."
Massachusetts also articulates, in its evaluation regulations, that teachers whose overall performance rating is exemplary "may be recognized and rewarded with leadership roles."
Selection Criteria: Massachusetts districts determine specific criteria.
Incentives and Supports: Massachusetts districts determine incentives and supports.
Support teacher leadership opportunities.
Massachusetts should strengthen its policy and further encourage teachers to assume leadership or advanced career positions while allowing them to remain in the classroom. This will enable teachers to aspire for professional growth opportunities and increased involvement in educational decisions for their school and community and may ultimately result in a more confident, empowered, and professionally satisfied teaching force.
Base criteria for leadership roles on effectiveness and content knowledge.
Massachusetts should ensure that teachers selected for leadership roles have a record of effectiveness in the classroom and bring substantial teaching experience and subject-matter knowledge.
Offer incentives or supports to teachers who assume leadership roles.
Massachusetts should offer—or encourage districts to offer—either financial incentives or nonmonetary supports to assist teacher leaders. To allow effective teacher leaders to remain in the classroom, Massachusetts should ensure that principals provide time and space for the tasks of both teacher of record and teacher leadership roles, which may be accomplished, for example, through a reduction of class loads.
Massachusetts recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also included links to additional Teacher Advisory Cabinet information and indicated that district resources include An Interactive Planning Guide for Distributed Leadership. Massachusetts further noted that its Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recently awarded 38 grants to support teacher-led professional development relating to revised curriculum frameworks.
9C: Leadership Opportunities
Research from the past four decades widely supports leadership roles for teachers. Teachers aspire to engage in leadership and professional growth opportunities, and desire more participation in decisions about instruction. Research suggests teacher leaders should be involved in policy and decision-making at some level.
Research has not found a relationship between teacher leadership and student achievement; however, the presence of teacher leadership opportunities in schools has benefits for individual teacher leaders, as well as the school-wide teacher community. Teacher leaders feel more confident, empowered, and professionally satisfied; they also feel that leadership roles allowed them to grow professionally. Teachers in schools with teacher leadership opportunities report that such opportunities contribute to greater teacher empowerment, professional community, and collective responsibility. For their school community, teachers in leadership roles have the capacity to increase teacher collaboration, spread best practices, encourage teacher professional learning, and focus on content-specific issues. Teacher leaders support professional learning communities by conducting formal professional development or assisting other teachers in classrooms. By concurrently serving as teachers, teacher leaders are likely to be more effective in both roles.
Teacher leaders selected for these roles should bring substantial teaching experience and knowledge of the curriculum, as well as effective instruction. Insofar as strong teacher leadership systems should ensure that teacher leaders also remain in the classroom as teachers, principals should provide time and space for the tasks of both teacher of record and teacher leadership roles, such as reducing class loads.