Leading Educators' Statement on the Connection Between Teacher Leadership & Race in America

We here at Leading Educators are deeply saddened by the violence that took place over the past week in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas. The senseless deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the 5 police officers in Dallas only underscore the deep racial divide that continues to plague our communities and, ultimately, our democracy.

Leading Educators May Newsletter

Dear Friends of Leading Educators:

Last week was national "Teacher Appreciation Week." At Leading Educators, we have the opportunity to see the amazing things teacher leaders are doing every week to develop and support their colleagues and their students. We deeply appreciate this hard work and the critical, exponential impact it is having on student learning. As you'll see throughout this list of our latest accomplishments and developments, Leading Educators has been working hard to ensure that more teacher leaders have the opportunities and skills to make the impact they seek:

  • During Teacher Appreciation Week, our Chief Program Officer, Chong-Hao Fu, and I wrote about teacher leadership as a force to improve schools for all students; how three types of teacher leadership roles are busting cages to improve student learning; the untold story of New Orleans' big education export; a DC superintendent's perspective on teacher leadership; and thebridges that are key to effective teacher-leader roles.
  • Leading Educators has released our 2014 Annual Report, which features some of our Fellows' impact on teachers they lead, principals they support, and students they serve. Check it out on our website
  • Our latest white paper, Building Bridges: Connecting Teacher Leadership and Student Success, focuses on roles that make teacher leadership successful.
  • In the last two months, we did strategic consulting work with Hiawatha Academies in Minneapolis and provided training for Teach For America alumni in Connecticut. We are also finalizing contracts with the New York City Department of Education, the Michigan Department of Education, and DC Public Schools. 
  • The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is now supporting our work as we take on the important tasks of developing teacher leaders and their teams in high-needs schools. 
  • The Carnegie Corporation of New York is supporting our development and launch of online classes that we will be offering to teacher leaders across the country for the first time this fall. These classes will focus on coaching others, leading teams, student culture, performance management, and Common Core State Standards in Literacy and Math. 
  • Leading Educators continues to be at the forefront of the national discussion of the teacher leadership movement. In the last few months, Chong-Hao and I have presented at conferences hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers, National Board of Professional Teaching Standards' Teaching and Learning, Iowa State Administrators, Teach For America, Educators 4 Excellence, National Network of State Teachers of the Year, Teach to Lead, ECET2 Kentucky, Massachusetts and New York City Departments of Education, Denver Public Schools, and Urban School Human Capital Academy.

Leading Educators has worked with over 700 teacher leaders so far this year. I am honored to be a part of this growing movement. I hope you will share any feedback or questions you have for me or our team, and that you'll join me in celebrating teachers for all that they do year-round!

Best regards,

Jonas Chartock

Learning from School Visits in New Orleans

by Jeff Fouquet, Leading Educators Fellow in Kansas City, Cohort 2012

Two weeks ago I traveled to New Orleans with the 2013 Leading Educator fellows from all around the Kansas City area. Although I had already experienced a School Visits Trip (SVT) to Chicago with my own cohort (2012), I knew seeing more schools and talking with more teachers would broaden my thinking about the possibilities for my own students and adult team. These goals were certainly accomplished, but I did not anticipate how many new partnerships this trip would introduce. 

Because of the generous levels of time, attention and guidance offered by our hosts in NOLA, I was able to identify specific, bite-size adjustments that would help my team immediately impact our students. Upon returning, I partnered with the computer apps teacher in my building to develop a data tracker so we could provide specific feedback to students. By using measurable, timely data to encourage academic and behavioral growth, students can show students specific changes they can make to improve their levels of success. Additionally, this week my team will stop recognizing a “Student of the Week” to adopt “Weekly Shout-outs.” My school serves an at-risk population, so spreading the praise around strategically instead of highlighting the success of one student will result in higher levels of student investment and build a stronger sense of community.

As exciting as these changes are, the best part of the SVTs was getting to work with other teacher-leaders as they tried to address their teams’ needs. As a second-year fellow, it felt good sharing some of the resources and strategies my Leading Educators coach, Tara Tamburello, had showed me to gain ground in similar situations. And, in kind, all the teacher-leaders I met were able to lend their perspectives to my mission to increase student investment.

I feel like I’ve written so much, yet I haven’t even mentioned the amazing educators and reformers who joined us from as far afield as England! We had guests from organizations both peripheral and essential to education who came to NOLA hoping to leverage what they learned in ways that might immediately impact the students they serve.

I sincerely thank Leading Educators, Kansas City Cohort 2013, and the teachers, students and schools of NOLA for creating such a transformative opportunity for personal and professional growth; I met so many amazing teachers and people. My team and my students are grateful for the changes this experience has inspired -  and I’m already look forward to next year’s trip!

School Visits Inspired Me to Improve

by Jeff Fouquet, Leading Educators Fellow in Kansas City, Cohort 2012

As a classroom teacher and aspiring administrator, I love borrowing ideas from great teachers and effective schools. During my two-year teacher-leader fellowship, Leading Educators has offered me countless opportunities to evaluate and improve my educational impact, but one of the most eye-opening experiences in all of my Fellowship has been the School Visits Trip (SVT) to Chicago last winter.

Visiting schools in communities much more diverse and disadvantaged than my own helped me see that everywhere, regardless of how they are portrayed, children are children, and they will respond positively to the efforts and support of tireless, caring adults. Witnessing schools that have instituted strong rituals of “community” or “celebration” helped me think about what my own building and district were doing to associate learning with pride and a shared sense of success. Similarly, having my knock on each classroom door greeted by a young student who stepped into the hallway, shook my hand, told me what class it was and the topic of the lesson before asking if I had any questions was pivotal in my rethinking of who owns the classroom and whose space it is. More than any other investigation of effective educational cultures, the SVT proved to me that in the best schools, even the small decisions reflect a deeply held conviction that every student can experience remarkable academic growth. 

As the next SVT approaches, I am excited for all the great learning and growth the new cohort of Leading Educators will experience—so excited, in fact, that I am going with them, to New Orleans this year, to see if I can learn even more from those teachers and  schools. Although there are no perfect models, each exposure to new ideas challenges teachers and administrators to revise their own measures of success – and that is the attitude that any enterprise seeking continuous improvement requires. 

Advisory Board Retreat: Creating Change

Our Advisory Board Retreat last month yielded many thought-provoking discussions for Leading Educators. The group considered how we should define ourselves as an organization and what specific goals we want to accomplish in the future. As a young but rapidly growing organization, we are excited by these challenging questions and privileged to have an Advisory Board to guide us through the crossroads. 

The retreat took place February 22-23, 2013 at Sci Academy in New Orleans East. In attendance were eight of the best and brightest minds in teacher-leadership today, from East and West Coasts, from de-centralized to large urban school districts, from charter organizations, to teacher unions, to public school systems. We are proud and appreciative of our diverse group of Advisory Board members. 

We were encouraged to learn that many of the topics discussed at the retreat were relevant to the Board members’ organizations. We found a universality among our goals and challenges, across the school districts represented at the meeting and even across the Atlantic, with one the Board member coming from our sister organization Teaching Leaders UK. We discussed on a broader scale how change happens: is change most accessible  on the fringes or, for teacher leadership to blossom, must it be addressed from the core of our systems?

We were reminded that systemic change — with whatever approach — is difficult to achieve. The Board encouraged us to identify our challenges specifically and then reach out to other institutions that are successfully handling similar situations. We can enrich our thinking by reaching out to multiple sectors — military, business, education, government, etc. — as their experience in developing middle leaders will likely be adaptable.

The group’s recommendations flowed with a sense of excitement about the potential of teacher-leadership in the U.S. Our advisory board is a valuable asset in our efforts to bring about student success through teacher leadership development.

Future posts will consider more specific topics discussed at the retreat—please stay tuned!

Reflections on Leading Educators’ Facilitator Induction: Harnessing the Power of TEAM

On March 9th, fourteen new and seven veteran Leading Educators Facilitators converged on the beautiful campus of Tulane University. We came together not only to learn how to deliver high quality seminars and ground in the Leading Educators culture but, perhaps more importantly, to make these powerful decisions: Who can we be and what can we accomplish together? Our answers to these questions give life, give a spirit to our work. It strikes me that these are the kind of decisions that drive the life of our schools daily, and the answers that the teacher-leaders with whom we work will learn to bring to the foreground in their school communities.

As a facilitator body, we live all over the United States: Colorado, Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, and New York. We have different roles in the landscape of educational transformation: some of us are program directors or administrators working inside public districts, some of us are independent educational consultants and trainers, some of are retired leaders whose spark for impacting the lives of kids and teachers has only gotten brighter over the years. We each bring different strengths and experiences.

As we shared our backgrounds and engaged in hearty dialogue and practice, I realized that our differences converge, like the instruments in a symphony, in a powerful mission and vision:

  1. Our Mission: Re-imagining and delivering a robust, consistent, and sustainably impactful core Leading Educators curriculum
  2. Our Vision: every teacher and every student achieves extraordinary success through strong, impassioned, visionary teacher-leaders.

I am looking forward to what unfolds as we continue to harness the power of team, among our facilitator body and extending into the teams our teacher-leaders create in their schools.

Dawnelle J. Hyland, Transformational Leadership Trainer and Consultant

Dawnelle Hyland’s background spans both educational and corporate domains, where her career has been focused on building impactful, visionary leaders.

She is deeply passionate about supporting teachers in developing their leadership talents, and supporting school administrators in creating thriving, leadership-based school cultures.