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Monday, September 07, 2015

Teacher Leadership Initiative (TLI): Developing Teacher Leadership Skills

As part of the Teacher Leadership Initiative (TLI) Cohort Three, I have to choose a capstone project focus. Soon I'll be working closely with my Massachusetts group to refine this decision, but in the meantime, I want to think about what's most important to me in my professional pursuit at the moment.

There are a number of initiatives on the table from which I can choose.

Presidential Election
I think the next presidential election is going to be very important for our country. The campaigns of many and our choice of one will impact our country and the world greatly. Who will we want to interface with leaders from all over the world? Who will we want when it comes to making decisions about world peace and future development? And, who will we want when it comes to the education of every child in America and beyond? I could choose a capstone project that related to advocacy during the election.

Communication and Outreach
For a long time now, I've been blogging. One of my main reasons for blogging is to tell the true story of one teacher's experience of teaching. I want to tell that story because so many think of teaching in ways that are incorrect. The more we all share our true stories and efforts, the more the public will understand what teaching really is. In many areas of policy with regard to teaching and other fields, the communication is exclusive speaking only to a few rather than larger groups. I am interested in the role that communication plays with regard to education, and I think that better communication of our needs, efforts, and vision as educators will translate into greater and better support. I'm interested in the research behind this issue including research related to adult education.

Local/State Leadership
I could choose a capstone that relates to local and/or state leadership activity. Currently in my local union, I want to play an outreach role where I help to bring important information to members of my local union. I have felt that some in our membership are less engaged because many simply don't know what's available to foster greater engagement and support for our individual and collective goals as educators, and I'd like to help get that message out. Whether I choose this or not, I want to read our State's Union website before our first local meeting so that I can begin to inform our membership of important events, opportunities, and supports in quick, easy-to-read ways on our local website and newsletter.

Education of Teacher Candidates (Pre-Service Education)
As an educator who often hosts teacher candidates in my classroom and as an educator who is committed to a strong public education system, I believe that the preparation of teacher candidates is a significant and important area of concern. Fortunately, this year, I have the opportunity to teach a couple of classes of wonderful, future teachers. It's important to me that I lead these teacher candidates well, and this could be a good capstone project.

Math Education
There is a lot to learn about teaching math well. Many programs are too narrow, superficial, and dull for students. There are many ways to lead math education forward, and this is an area I'm both responsible for and highly interested in. This is the objective of my Massachusetts' Teacher Evaluation Goals too. I could focus on this important area of education for my capstone as well.

Shared Teaching Model
This year my teaching team at fifth grade is embarking on a shared teaching model to teach all students well. Similar to Middle School models, we each have a focus area for teaching, but different from a Middle School Model, our teaming is interdisciplinary and our first focus is on the children rather than the content. We are employing RTI, PBL, field studies, and thematic days too in an effort to integrate our teaching/learning goals, strengths, and vision with regard to students' needs, interests, and passions. I am very invested in this model and very excited about the potential it holds for teaching every child well.

As I write about all the possible paths for my capstone, it's clear to me that Instructional Leadership is the path that calls me forth with the greatest energy. While I'm interested in and know the importance of the Policy Leadership and Association Leadership, I am passionate about Instructional Leadership, and believe that's where my capstone efforts should lie.

I had a leaning in this direction earlier, and now I am leaning even further towards this topic for my capstone effort. With this in mind, I wrote to leadership and colleagues in my district today (see below) to elicit their priorities and interests with this model in mind. That will help me to gain a broader perspective for my efforts. I'm looking forward to this teaching/learning path ahead.

Letter to Colleagues/Leadership:

Hi Colleagues,

This year I'm partaking in the NEA's Teacher Leadership Initiative (TLI) Cohort Three. This link provides a brief introduction to the effort. To date it has been an informative and growth producing process.

As part of this process, I have to complete a capstone project, and I am leaning heavily toward making the shared leadership model we're piloting at Happy Hollow's fifth grade as my project topic. This project rose to the top of many choices because I truly believe this model reflects current research and need with regard to what it means to teach children well today.

If any of you have time to help in this regard, this is my request: Please send me a short list of thoughts, ideas, and/or reservations you have about the model as I want to study this model in depth from multiple perspectives. I will openly share my research and efforts with you upon completion. A priority of this work is to collaborate well with the teaching team. 

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide as each of you looks at this model from a somewhat different lens and your input will help me to see the whole picture better. I know you are all very busy, but for those of you who have the time to help, I will need the responses by October 3 when I meet with the MA group to solidify my research/study plans. 

Thank you so much.