Part 1: Refining teacher leader learning through ongoing professional development
by Eva Konstantellou, Reading Recovery Trainer, Lesley University
There’s an ongoing debate among policy makers on cultivating the leadership skills of teachers so that they become agents of change within educational contexts (see two recent issues of Educational Leadership, on “Leveraging Teacher Leadership,” October 2013 and “Professional Learning: Reimagined,” May 2014).
I cannot think of a group of educators that fits the profile of teacher as leader more than Reading Recovery teacher leaders. The teacher leader role is complex. Teacher leaders:
- are expert teachers of children
- support the learning of adult learners who take the yearlong course to become Reading Recovery teachers and continue supporting them through ongoing professional development
- work with school administrators to ensure that safety nets are in place for the students most in need
- oversee data collection and reporting
- support development of the school literacy/Reading Recovery team
- advocate for continuous support of Reading Recovery among administrators and other stakeholders
A critical feature of the Reading Recovery intervention is the inquiry-based professional development model that contributes to the effectiveness of Reading Recovery as an early literacy intervention. Following a full year of graduate level coursework in:
- coaching skills
- literacy theory
- clinical work based on the theoretical work of Marie Clay
- issues related to implementing an educational innovation
teacher leaders participate in ongoing professional development provided by faculty members at approved university training centers. During their professional development sessions teacher leaders observe live teaching and reflect on teaching decisions in order to refine their practice and help support the learning of teachers. They also engage in in-depth study and discussion of the work of scholars in various fields of study ranging from early childhood education, to psychology, linguistics, philosophy, cognitive science, organizational theory, etc.
Teacher leaders are true scholar-practitioners who reflect on and assess the impact of their work through actively exchanging ideas within a community of practice.
For information on the complex roles of the teacher leader and on teacher leader initial and ongoing professional development please see: