Education Resource Strategies: Effectively integrating teacher leadership into the system

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ERS Teacher Leadership and Career Pathways Checklist

Teacher leadership plays a critical role in schools that dramatically improve student performance. However, despite many well-intentioned efforts, teacher leadership initiatives rarely become a lasting part of the way schools and districts organize. The cause? Efforts are often implemented in a piecemeal fashion and/or trade-offs are not put in place to secure adequate resources to sustain them.

To support districts in establishing teacher leadership programs that stick, ERS created the Teacher Leadership and Career Pathways Checklist, comprised of what we call the “must-dos” and “common missteps” for the six steps of program creation. The checklist builds on research and district experiences implementing teacher leadership, and it contributes new steps for how to successfully scale and sustain these efforts.

Why are teacher leadership roles so important?

Strategic teacher leadership roles:

  1. Extend the reach of excellent teachers through teaming. If we want to dramatically improve student performance, the impact of the best teachers must be extended and supported through teaming, which is the collaboration and support structures that help all teachers grow.
  2. Keep great teachers in schools for longer. Robust pathways for teacher career advancement provide professional and financial incentives for taking on leadership roles, ensure accountability, and make the job more sustainable.
  3. Make principal job more doable. Principals have the challenge of managing 40 to 100 teachers. When experienced teacher leaders take on the responsibility of managing small groups of teachers, principals increase their capacity to develop faculty in a way that focuses on school needs and improving student learning.

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