I had the pleasure of being part of a panel on teacher leadership at the American Education Research Association conference in San Francisco last month. I presented on a paper I wrote, “Creating Capacity & Space for Teacher Leadership.”

I hope you’ll take the time to watch my complete presentation, in the video above. But here’s a taste of the personal narrative about teacher leadership that I present in my paper:

Over the past ten years, I have transformed from a third-year teacher who turned down opportunities to present his work because he felt he had nothing to offer other teachers, to a ninth-year teacher who co-founded a new school, writes for publication, delivers professional development, and nurtures in-person and virtual networks for teacher development, while firmly retaining a primary identity of classroom teacher. My self-recognition as a teacher-leader follows the identity-formation model of hailing (Althusser, 1972). Just as Althusser suggests that individuals become subjected to ideology through the recognition that a hailing “was ‘really’ addressed to him, and that ‘it was really him who was hailed’ (and not someone else)” so too has it been with me as a teacher-leader. Throughout my career, others have “hailed” me as a potential, novice, actualized, and then accomplished teacher-leader. Through this repeated call, I have had little choice but to assume the role. …

My experience suggests that schools and organizations must create structures to identify, develop, and compensate teacher-leaders in ways that recognizes their work while keeping them firmly in the classroom.  The attempt to conceptualize such individuals as teacher-leaders or teacherpreneurs is a necessary first step, which must be followed by opportunities beyond existing conference structures for teachers to not only to work with other teachers, but to earn recognition and compensation for doing so. By developing more teacher-leaders, there will be a dual benefit: the best teachers will have incentive to stay teachers, while the system will benefit from their knowledge and expertise.

And here’s the text of the slide I’m referring to, and standing in front of, during the presentation.

Slide text:
Creating Capacity & Space for Teacher Leadership

Goal: Transform education from field where expertise and success exists in isolated individual classrooms (or outside of them) to one where expert practitioners augment and influence beyond their classrooms.

How:
– Recognize novice teachers as potential teacher-leaders
– Create space for teacher-leaders to practice and develop
– Recognize and compensate teachers through formal leadership opportunities

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