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The Impact of the Lead Teacher Professional Learning Community Within the Rice University Mathematics Leadership Institute

Abstract

"Now in its fourth year, Rice University's Mathematics Leadership Institute (MLI) has developed over sixty high school mathematics Lead Teachers. We focus on how membership in MLI has impacted participant teachers' professional lives. The Lead Teacher community that emerged during MLI's first Summer Leadership Institute embodies the characteristics of a sustaining and coherent knowledge community where teachers are able to share their secret "stories of practice in safe places... in order to make their personal practical knowledge explicit to themselves and to others" [1]. This article includes stories of individual teachers who refused to sacrifice hours of instructional time for mandated curriculum testing, who encouraged and supported a large group of MLI teachers to participate in a grueling advanced certification program, and who challenged the local administration's expectation to compromise personal professional standards. These stories may not have emerged in their particular ways had these teachers and their supporting co-manager not been members of this coherent and sustained knowledge community. This knowledge community has enabled the achievement of MLI goals with respect to teachers' increased mathematics content knowledge, leadership development, and student achievement. We also include focus group comments and quantitative data."

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