The state should support teachers to take on leadership opportunities that allow them to continue teaching.
State support for teacher leadership: Virginia offers an optional Teacher as Leader designation.
Selection criteria: Virginia requires that teachers achieve the career teacher designation; complete at least five years of successful, full-time teaching experience; and receive a recommendation from a school division superintendent verifying "demonstrated skills and abilities as a school leader and direct contributions to school effectiveness and student achievement." However, there is no explicit link to teacher effectiveness as measured by the state's evaluation policy, which includes objective measures of student growth.
Incentives and supports: Virginia provides opportunities for teacher leaders to participate in content institutes where they are provided training, that they are then able to provide at their schools. Teacher leaders are provided opportunities to develop and deliver training in their content areas. It is unclear whether these opportunities are provided only to teachers with teacher as leader designation or whether this opportunity is open to any teacher meeting a variety of criteria depending on the training program requirements.
8VAC20-23-60 http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/sol/standards_docs/mathematics/index.shtml http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/history/professional_development/institutes/2017/index.shtml
Base criteria for leadership roles on effectiveness and content knowledge.
Virginia 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.
Virginia 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, Virginia 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.
Virginia was helpful in providing NCTQ with information necessary for this analysis.
Virginia indicated that it does have opportunities to support teachers to assume leadership roles. The state cited its Aspiring Special Education Leaders Academy. This is open to educators who are not currently special education directors and "and is designed to help prepare potential leaders for future administrative positions in special education." Participants are selected via a nomination and application process. The academy is a year long that includes "workshops, seminars, observations, assignments and field experiences." The state pays for expenses related to lodgings and meals, and the districts pay for substitutes.
Virginia also offers Teacher Leaders In Action program the purpose of which is to "build teacher leaders in lesson planning and lesson delivery." Training participants are paid $50/ hour "according to division policy/practice." The state noted that it also has the Virginia Middle School Teacher Corps (MSTC) which seeks to recruit and retain middle school teachers "for middle schools where mathematics is an area identified for improvement."
The state also noted its participation in the University Preparation Program Initiative Wallace Grant. The Virginia State University (VSU) and the Department of Education, in conjunction with a number of school districts are developing automated leader tracking systems that gather information on aspiring leaders to match the skills of educators with the needs of schools. According to the state, the system when complete, will have certain data filters — such as years of experience, leadership positions held, education, demographics, assessment data, trainings and professional learning opportunities they have led, and positions held — are captured in an electronic system to align potential leaders with specific administrative vacancies.The school divisions will implement these tracking systems to help identify and retain leaders in their schools.
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.