Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Teacher Leadership and the Advancement of Teacher Agency

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Teacher Leadership and the Advancement of Teacher Agency

Article excerpt


Recruiting new teachers, retaining novice and experienced teachers, providing ongoing professional development (PD) for in-service teachers, and preparing pre-service (PS) teachers are challenging issues in all academic content areas, including world languages. The goal of this article is to expand our thinking about meeting these challenges. The first half of the article describes Iowa's Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) System and its potential for creating a new school culture that will appeal to aspiring, novice, and experienced teachers. The second half of the article suggests ways that teacher education programs can enhance teacher agency so that PS teachers are prepared for this new school culture.


2.1| Background

The term teacher leadership, as applied in the Iowa TLC System, is defined as follows:

Teacher leadership means having a voice in the policies and decisions that affect your students, your daily work, and the shape of your profession. It means guiding the growth of your colleagues. It means that teaching can't be a one-size-fits-all job-that there must be different paths based on different interests, and you don't have to end up with the same job description that you started with. It means sharing in decisions that used to be only made by administrators-and the best administrators know they'll make better decisions when they listen to teachers. (Duncan, 2014, n.p.)

The development of the TLC System began in February 2012, when the Iowa legislature established the Task Force on Teacher Leadership and Compensation in Iowa Code (Senate File 2284,, p. 5). The 25-member team was made up of school board members; elementary, secondary, community college, and university educators; secondary school administrators; and a university president. The task force identified six goals to be accomplished by the TLC System:

* Attract able and promising new teachers by offering a more competitive starting salary and a variety of enhanced career opportunities.

* Retain the most effective teachers in teaching (as opposed to administration or to leaving the field altogether) by providing enhanced career opportunities.

* Encourage professional growth in teaching practice by recognizing and rewarding teachers who seek out learning opportunities aligned with local goals.

* Promote collaboration by developing and supporting opportunities for teachers in schools, districts, and statewide to learn from each other.

* Reward initiative and competence by creating pathways for career opportunities that come with increased leadership and compensation.

* Improve student performance by strengthening instruction. (Iowa Department of Education, 2012, p. 9)

2.2I Key benefits

2.2.1I Support for new teachers

In order to support new teachers as they transition from their teacher education programs to their first teaching positions and consequently to lower the high attrition rate of new teachers, the TLC task force recommended that a residency year be established. The year would involve a reduced teaching load to allow time for novice teachers to observe model teachers, receive intensive supervision and mentoring, and participate in PD designed specifically for them. Mentoring would continue throughout the novice teacher's second year, after which he or she would be endorsed for a standard teaching license, repeat the residency year, or be dismissed.

2.2.2| Leadership opportunities for experienced teachers

Each school "district must demonstrate a good-faith effort of selecting at least 25 percent of the teacher workforce [who hold a standard teaching license] to serve in differentiated, multiple, meaningful teacher leadership roles" (Iowa Department of Education, 2013, p. 5). The TLC task force suggested the following possible roles and leadership/teaching responsibility ratios:

* Model teachers teach full time and allow student teachers, novice teachers, and peers to observe them in their classrooms. …

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