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Confronting Myths about Teacher Leadership


"Leadership in Freshman Physics is an NSF-funded professional development program designed to support 9th grade teacher leaders in the successful implementation of a 'Physics First' or curriculum sequence that places physics prior to biology and chemistry. Leadership is viewed as an essential component in the initial success and long-term sustainability of such reforms. This article is an account of myths about teacher leadership held by participants and the ways in which we addressed these in our program. We discovered that teachers' beliefs about what leadership is and who can lead served as barriers to their development as leaders. The professional development helped teachers confront these myths through emphasizing the significance of informal leadership, the need for multiple leaders to work within different contexts to improve student learning, and the opportunities for leadership inherent in their day-to-day work. Each teacher designed a plan of action, based on their professional experiences and school environment. A web-based online learning community was established to serve as a platform of interaction and support among teachers and project staff. We emphasize that by developing their capacity for leadership, teachers can make a difference beyond their own classrooms through empowering others."