Teacher Leadership That Strengthens Professional Practice

Teacher Leadership That Strengthens Professional Practice

Teacher Leadership That Strengthens Professional Practice

Teacher Leadership That Strengthens Professional Practice


Every school relies on teachers who informally and voluntarily lead various efforts in the school. These teachers may not be appointed leaders or paid leaders, but they are committed leaders: they see a need and they respond to it. What do these teacher leaders do that is different from the work of excellent teachers who are not teacher leaders? If we can articulate those skills, says Charlotte Danielson, then we can take steps to enable more teachers to develop those skills and be better equipped to tackle special projects. Teacher Leadership That Strengthens Professional Practice is designed to be a resource not only for prospective teacher leaders but also for administrators who want to better support the development of outstanding teacher leaders. Teachers seeking to expand their leadership capacity will learn how to? recognize an opportunity and take initiative,? mobilize colleagues around a common purpose,? marshal resources and take action,? monitor and adjust the initiative,? sustain the commitments of others, and ? contribute to the learning organization. Administrators will find advice on how to cultivate, promote, honor, and empower teacher leaders--and how to work with them to successfully present innovations to the school community. In short, this book gives individuals and schools a practical framework for tapping teachers' leadership potential and marshaling their efforts to better educate students and create a stronger learning community. As Danielson convincingly shows, genuine teacher leadership is a powerful force for constructive change.


The term “teacher leadership,” which has been much in the professional news of late, has been used in a number of different senses. Its meaning, as used in this book, is best illustrated by three examples.

A New Way to Do Field Trips

In 1997, Margaret , a 4th grade teacher in Michigan, took her students (as she had for many years) on a field trip to the local historical museum. The outing was fairly typical of such excursions: some preparation for what the children might see, a lot of “herding” by Margaret, a few parent volunteer chaperones, and children attempting to conceal (not very successfully) their boredom with presentations by the museum staff. In fact, Margaret remembers, the children exhibited “considerably more motivation for spending their money at the museum gift shop than learning about Michigan's history.”

By the next year, things had changed. Margaret was dissatisfied with the quality of the learning in which her students were engaged. In fact, she was beginning to wonder whether the annual field trip was a wise expenditure of the district's scarce resources. So

All the teachers described in this chapter are based on real individuals. Margaret's story describes a project created by
Margaret Holtschlag, a teacher in Haslett, Michigan. The project is now supported by the Michigan Department of Edu
cation and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and sample lessons are available at www.biglesson.org.
Elena's story is an adaptation of an authentic situation. Tom's account is a composite of several different people.

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