A new series of three briefs from the Prichard Committee explains efforts since 2010 to redefine and expand teacher leadership in Kentucky schools.

Nationally, teacher leadership efforts have sought to expand roles and connections for teachers to develop their skills. Teacher leadership programs have also examined ways to keep strong teachers in classrooms rather than seeking administrative roles as the only path to greater responsibility and compensation.

The briefs, published online in December, explain teachers’ experiences in recent years and also draw attention to issues that remain to sustain the drive to make teaching a more influential and rewarding profession.

The briefs, based on interviews with teachers across the state, explore three main areas:

* Expanded networking events that have tapped social media platforms to dramatically expand collaboration and connection among teachers within Kentucky and beyond. Teacher Samantha Sams of Frankfort explains in the brief that involvement in the Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers network was an important lifeline at a time when she felt like an isolated and struggling beginning teacher. “Being a teacher can be deflating. You hear people say, ‘You’re the expert,’ but often you don’t feel support. You feel like you have to solve the world’s problems by yourself.”

* A project that has developed “common assignments” that bring together teachers from different school districts to create and fine-tune lessons and classroom units that aim to give students a deeper understanding of academic content and produce rigorous student work. Michele Devine, a veteran middle school teacher in Washington County, said the network helped her strengthen her classroom teaching. “This is a great way to be able to evaluate student work and refine my practice so my students can reach a higher level,” she said. “It’s so helpful to work with other teachers.”

* The general push to rethink the roles and opportunities for teachers in an era of high standards, tight resources, and widespread technology. Noraa Ransey, a teacher at North Calloway Elementary outside Murray, said that even for educators who plan to remain classroom teachers, meaningful professional growth opportunities are necessary to improve student learning and feel job satisfaction. “It’s amazing what the ideas of teacher leadership have done for our students and school.”

Many of the organizations supporting teacher leadership work joined the Prichard Committee as partners in presenting the briefs. The groups include Classroom Teachers Enacting Positive Solutions, CTL, the Education Professional Standards Board, the Hope Street Group, the Kentucky National Board Certified Teacher Network, and Transform Education Kentucky. Each of the three briefs can be downloaded by clicking the links above.


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