Wanted: Teacher leaders to help improve Detroit schools
- The Detroit Public Schools Community District has launched a master teacher initiative that will eventually include 200 educators paid a $5,000 stipend to mentor, coach and help their peers improve, according to the Detroit Free Press.
- Instead of being asked to leave the classroom to serve as teacher leaders, the master teachers will remain in the classroom half of the time and spend the rest working with other teachers.
About 30 teachers were hired for the position out of the initial 100 applications, and the initiative is part of Superintendent Nikolai Vitti’s effort to improve student performance and create a career ladder for teachers.
The president of the district’s teacher union stresses in the article that it’s important for principals not to give these master teachers administrative duties, such as monitoring students during lunch, handling discipline or completing reports.
In addition, just because they are successful educators doesn’t mean that teacher leaders don’t need some ongoing support and professional development. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for example, began the Elevating and Celebrating Teaching and Teachers events, which grew to include local gatherings across the country, to give teacher leaders opportunities to share their work and learn from each other. The University of Washington’s College of Education has even created a "master in instructional leadership" program, as well as smaller certificate programs to help teachers grow in what is known as a “boundary spanner’ role. Those in the program work on research projects that are relevant to their own schools.
A 2015 report from the Massachusetts Department of Education described how to create a school culture that supports teacher leadership and included measures that principals can take to encourage teachers to take leadership roles, such as having a growth mindset toward all staff members, being humble and reflective, and being approachable and flexible.
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