“Ultimately, teacher leadership, as we intend it, is about action that enhances teaching and learning in a school, that ties schools and community together and that advances the quality of life for a community.” Crowther, et al i
While the current debate around teacher effectiveness headlines most media and reform movement outlets, the idea of teacher leadership has a solid grassroots foundation and is gaining momentum in education policy circles. Teacher leadership is not a new idea. Everyone who has worked in schools can identify a teacher who stood out for their leadership qualities. Perhaps it was the department chairperson who modeled and presented effective instructional practices. Or maybe it was the science teacher who organized a community garden for the students to cultivate while learning environmental science. Or perhaps it was a math teacher who pursued National Board certification, while supporting her colleagues to do the same. And yet, while much has been written about the different characteristics, conditions, and challenges of teacher leadership, the education profession struggles to define what teacher leadership is, how it develops, and its effects on schooling.ii
At Center X, supporting and developing teacher leadership is at the core of the professional learning opportunities we offer. Over the years, members of Center X have captured aspects of teacher leadership through research, anecdotes, and professional development—all highlighted in this issue of the Center XChange, “Growing and Supporting Teacher Leadership.” Specifically, we focus on three areas:
At the core of the issue is a Visualizing Teacher Leadership infographic. By intersecting the current research and practice around teacher leadership, this infographic represents the different facets of teacher leadership, the references that framed our thinking, and examples found throughout the issue. In creating this infographic, we struggled with how to define teacher leadership in a way that would emphasize that teacher leaders utilize various facets of leadership depending on their leadership role. Furthermore, since many teacher leaders perform leadership duties across many different roles, we decided to define teacher leadership through the actions of teacher leaders, instead of their roles.
With each example and protocol/tool, we emphasized teacher leader’s values and beliefs around leadership, how these values and beliefs influenced their work as a teacher leader, and the actions that resulted– from novel study professional development to tools for collaborating during meetings. By providing the thinking behind the development of teacher leadership, we hope to provide a resource for all educators that supports what we at UCLA Center X believe and value about teacher leadership,
i Crowther, F., Kaagen, S.S., Ferguson, M., & Hann, L. (2002). Developing teacher leaders: How teacher leadership enhances school success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
ii York-Barr, J., & Duke, K. (January 01, 2004). What Do We Know About Teacher Leadership? Findings From Two Decades of Scholarship. Review of Educational Research, 74, 3, 255-316.
iii Fullan, M. G. (1994). Teacher leadership: A failure to conceptualize. In D. R. Walling (Ed.), Teachers as leaders (pp. 241 -253). Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.