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Topic: "Teacher leaders and sustainability"

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Topic started by: Marian Grogan on 5/20/14

Looking to hear from projects that have used teachers leadership models as a way to help sustain their PD.

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teacher leaders as an effective way to sustain PD

posted by: Marian Grogan on 5/20/2014 5:00 pm

Interested in hearing about teacher leadership models that have been successful or not successful as a way to sustain professional development in your projects

using teacher leaders to sustain PD

posted by: Wendy Smith on 5/21/2014 10:09 am

We have been very successful in sustaining courses created by our MSPs, and having them taught by teachers who have completed our programs. We typically teach classes for teachers using instructional teams of 2-5 (depending on class type and class size), so over time have been able to hire teachers first as assistants, then co-lead and lead instructors. Most districts have also recognized our graduates as leaders, so call on them to help facilitate district PD. This summer we have over 50 graduate classes running for math & science teachers, and have 58 teachers, 20 grad students, and 21 faculty from 5 different universities lined up to teach. Having faculty, grad students, and teachers serve together on instructional teams for large classes helps provide valuable perspectives on both the subject and teaching. Having teachers able to serve as lead instructors helps us to offer courses across the state, and not just on our own campus.

using teacher leaders

posted by: Marian Grogan on 5/21/2014 4:29 pm

Thanks, Wendy for your fast reply! I'm curious about the classes in which teachers are lead instructors - are these face to face or online classes? What content and grade levels do the participating teachers teach? What benefit do you see for the class participants to having teachers as their instructors? Do you expect these classes to continue when the project is over?

re: using teacher leaders

posted by: Wendy Smith on 5/22/2014 9:35 am

Marian--we have both face-to-face and online classes in which teachers are lead instructors, but generally more face-to-face. We offer classes at about 10-12 locations across Nebraska each summer. You can see what we're offering this summer (not including the grant-funded cohorts) here:
Our original MSP, Math in the Middle, started getting institutionalized in 2008. We have successfully institutionalized most of the graduate courses created for that project through our summer institutes. NebraskaMATH, our current MSP now in its last year, has also had its courses institutionalized through both our summer institutes and our growing set of online courses.
We have courses for K-12 teachers, but most math classes are designed for K-3, 4-8, 7-12, or 9-12. Science classes so far have targeted secondary teachers. Pedagogy classes tend to be either K-6, 7-12 or K-12.
I expect our online and summer offerings to continue long after grant funding is over. This summer we are seeing lots of teachers begin to be supported by district funds to take graduate courses from us.
We see lots of benefits to having teachers as lead instructors: we expand the pool of qualified people available to lead courses across the state; teachers know quite intimately the challenges of teaching in ways that professors who have never taught K-12 cannot; lead teachers can relate stories of trying activities with their own students, which can head off the thoughts that these activities are just dreamed up by out-of-touch-professors and wouldn't work with Nebraska students. One of our ultimate goals is to develop (and now to strengthen) the professional community of math and science teachers across the state. Sustaining a community takes grassroots leadership, and investing in teachers as lead instructors is part of our strategy for strengthening the professional community.

using teacher leaders

posted by: Marian Grogan on 5/29/2014 11:59 am

Wendy - I apologize for the long delay in responding. I actually did so late last week but from an island in Maine with spotty internet, and it must not have gone through. Your comments about the benefits of teachers as lead instructors certainly resonate with our experience and with what we are hearing from other colleagues working on MSP projects in other states. It is certainly a labor-intensive strategy but has clear benefits for both the leaders and the teachers whom they teach. What kind of ongoing support are you able to offer to either or both teacher-instructors and teacher- participants as the professional community expands across the state?

re: using teacher leaders

posted by: Wendy Smith on 5/31/2014 1:22 pm

We have ongoing support in several forms. One is a monthly newsletter that includes a variety of stories. We actually have 3 newsletters: math, science, and elementary math.

We also have a number of math teacher circles that operate across the state. This gives teachers a chance to regularly get together and do math together.

A number of teachers are working on advanced degrees (master's or doctorate) so may take online classes during the year and get to interact with each other.

Informally, as teachers get to know each other through summer courses, we have seen a stronger professional network statewide, in which teachers go to each other for advice about math teaching and learning.

When teacher leaders first teach a class, we try to have a workshop (if there are enough of them) or some one-on-one meetings with past instructors to help support them in their new role.


Teacher leadership

posted by: Drew Polly on 5/21/2014 7:32 am

In our last MSP project (2010-2013) we raised up leaders from our first cohort to co-facilitate PD in years 2 and 3 of the grant with district leaders and university faculty. It worked well. In terms of sustainable PD those leaders since have gone into other district leadership positions or stayed as classroom teachers but have led district wide pacing, planning, and assessment creation.

Our current MSP is state wide with 6 districts. Teachers from cohort I are also co-facilitating PD with district leaders.

teacher leaders

posted by: Marian Grogan on 5/21/2014 4:32 pm

Hi Drew - thanks for your reply. What do you see as the benefits to the teachers participating in PD that is provided by other teachers?