Established in 2014, Teach to Lead is a partnership of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), Teach Plus, and the U.S. Department of Education. It was created to empower teachers to become agents of excellence and change in U.S. schools. Several states across the country are getting involved. Statewide organizations come together annually in the Teach to Lead Maine summit, where they share resources and work together to bolster teacher leader initiatives.
The Importance of Strong Teacher Leaders
Teach to Lead Maine believes that educators have the potential to effect continuous improvement in their schools by staying abreast of recent data on student learning, identifying needs in their schools, and working with others to address those needs. Known as Teacher Leaders, they peer coach and mentor, engage parent and community participation and review research on student learning and best practices. Strong and well-equipped teacher leaders are an essential component in successful schools and school districts.
Becoming a Teacher Leader
Aside from resources and events like those from Teach to Lead Maine, there is a host of resources for educators at every level to develop leadership skills, including master’s degree programs at state universities. A high-quality program, like the one designed by the University of Southern Maine, includes coursework that adheres to the Maine Education Department’s seven core domains of teacher leadership.
While earning the degree, you will study and experience analysis of assessment and teaching strategies, strategic planning skills, curricular development and educational research. You will learn how to identify the needs of both teachers and students, as well as mentor and guide your peers to address those needs. The facilitation skills you acquire will equip you to continue to seek out knowledge and skills which you can then use to collaborate with other school members and drive change.
For example, you will learn how peer facilitation helps foster a collaborative culture that supports both educator development and student learning, a key domain of teacher leadership. You will also explore research methods, data analysis, and communication, developing key skills needed to drive solution-focused conversations and facilitate collaborative research and interventions that meet the unique needs of each student body. As a model for promoting continuous school improvement, your experience with handling and interpreting data, technology, and resources places you on the cutting edge of education where you can serve as a guide for other teachers.
As Maine works toward fostering teacher leadership, education and training are key. While many teachers are natural leaders, they need grounding and experience to ensure they are influencing and mentoring their peers in ways that genuinely improve school environments and foster student learning. Rigorous, in-depth academic degree programs offer important training and experience that shape teachers into leaders and their schools into networks of leadership. The journey to school improvement is ongoing, but fostering teacher leadership is an important first step in that direction.