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Study: Use of teacher leadership expands

School districts across the nation are offering teachers more leadership opportunities, but to have a positive impact on student achievement and reduce teacher burnout, districts need strong planning and implementation of leadership opportunities.

That’s one of key findings from “Leading from the Front of the Classroom: A Roadmap for Teacher Leadership that Works” a new study by The Aspen Institute’s Education & Society Program and Leading Educators.

Leading Educators is a New Orleans-based organization that designs and supports teacher leadership initiatives for school districts and charter networks, according to its website. The Aspen Institute is a educational and policy studies organization in Washington, D.C.

The report was released earlier this week at a Education Writers Association seminar in Detroit.

When the planning and goal-setting process is not clear, and only benefits the teacher leader instead of the entire staff, these initiatives tend to fail, according to the study.

The research also highlights examples of effective teacher leadership in several cities, including Chicago, the District of Columbia, Denver, and in Tennessee, where more than 700 teachers were trained as Common Core coaches.

As coaches, Tennessee’s teacher leaders were trained in how to model and train other educators using Common Core State Standards focused on classroom instruction.

Teachers involved receive a $5,000 annual stipend.

At Kate Bond Middle School in Memphis there are six Common Core coaches.

“Having core coaches in the building means they can go and model for other teachers,” Principal Angela Brown said in the report. “They can go and see what it looks like in their classroom. They can actually plan together. It just makes them accessible. Some of the thinking processes behind the Common Core shifts are difficult, and they sometimes can be uncomfortable. But when you have someone right here with you that you trust to talk with or see demonstrate, and then have time to come back and debrief and talk with you, the change becomes much easier.”

The purpose of the study is to point districts in the direction of creating teacher leader programs that directly address retention, achievement and administrator burnout.

“In the areas where Leading Educators works directly with schools on developing these types of programs, we have seen higher teacher satisfaction and more collaborative, less stressful learning environments,” said Jonas Chartock, founder and CEO of Leading Educators.

View the full report here

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