The state should support teachers to take on leadership opportunities that allow them to continue teaching.
State support for teacher leadership: Washington offers teacher leaders the opportunity to participate in the Washington State Fellows' Network. Fellows participate in professional learning and engage in leadership opportunities to support district, school, or organizational implementation and professional learning of the state's standards.
Washington's evaluation system relies on teacher leaders to lead framework trainings as feedback specialists. The New Washington Teacher Advisory Council is a leadership cadre from past and present state and regional teachers of the year. The BEST program uses teacher leaders as mentor academy trainers and as mentors for new teachers.
Selection criteria: Washington's Fellows are selected based on the following criteria: geographical distribution across region; grade band representation; evidence of district standards implementation plans; strong district/community support; instructional leaders with access to classrooms; active in professional learning; deep understanding of the standards; previous leadership with the educational service districts (ESD), district, or community; and representation of regional districts.
Incentives and supports: Washington's Fellows' Network has four convenings per year for each content area and may have additional virtual check-ins. Districts cover travel and substitute costs.
Washington State Fellows' Network: http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/Fellows.aspx http://k12.wa.us/TPEP/ProfLearning.aspx http://www.k12.wa.us/watac/ http://www.k12.wa.us/BEST/default.aspx http://www.k12.wa.us/BEST/Standards.aspx Mentor FAQs
Base criteria for leadership roles on effectiveness and content knowledge.
Washington 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 additional incentives or supports to teachers who assume leadership roles.
Although Washington is on the right track in offering professional learning opportunities to its teacher leaders, the state is encouraged to strengthen its policy and offer—or encourage districts to offer—either financial incentives or more substantive nonmonetary supports. Washington should also 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.
Washington recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state also noted that it supports National Board Certification in the following ways:
- System of training and support for candidates using teacher leadership of NBCTs
- Bonus for NBCTs who are serving in the classroom; additional bonus for teachers in schools with certain percentage thresholds of students receiving free and reduced-price lunch
Washington has also developed a Teacher Leadership Framework in conjunction with the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP).
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.