Supporting Teacher Leadership Systems in GPAEA

The flowers are in bloom and the Chicago Cubs are 9 games below .500 so it must be May Day in the Great State of Iowa.  This spring brings something new to Iowa’s educational landscape though, as the Iowa Teacher Leadership Supplement (TLS) program is officially off the ground.  Districts representing one-third of Iowa’s school aged students have been selected to begin implementing teacher leadership programs this coming school year.  Over the course of the following two school years (2015-16 and 2016-17), nearly all of Iowa’s school districts will be involved in the business of utilizing teacher leadership positions to improve student achievement through strengthening instruction and instructional leadership.  Most districts in Iowa are already well into implementing the foundational components that will help support TLS.  Implementing the Iowa Core Standards and Curriculum is helping Iowa schools address the “what” of continuous school improvement.  Using  RTI or Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports is addressing the “how” .  TLS will address the “who” of continuous improvement by creating a network of highly qualified teacher leaders able to provide instructional coaching and otherwise engage all of Iowa’s teachers in a model of collaborative inquiry.

A stakeholder group made up of educators from the Department of Education and AEA’s has recognized that districts in Iowa will need a system of support designed specifically to develop mentors and teacher leaders.  That group has designed a Framework for Learning Supports, a draft of which can be viewed in its entirety here:

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https://www.educateiowa.gov/sites/files/ed/documents/TLC%20Framework%20for%20Learning%20Supports_DRAFT_March%202014.pdf

This framework of supports is divided into 7 categories, those being adult learning, collaborative culture, communication, content/pedagogy/assessment, systems thinking, data, and organizational leadership.  Great Prairie AEA, like all AEA’s, is currently taking steps to see that all districts are supported in the seven TLC support areas, regardless of whether or not they were formally selected in year one for the Teacher Leadership Supplement.  Many current GPAEA initiatives already align to one or more parts of the framework.  We will continue to support investigations and unit design in the Iowa Core, Data Teams, RTI, and early literacy.  We will also continue to address systems issues through our leadership academy, which will again facilitate the implementation of current and emerging district priorities.  These continuing programs will all serve to support multiple parts of the framework.  Some areas in the framework will require us to provide new learning opportunities.  We will no doubt need to enhance our mentoring and induction programs and place a renewed emphasis on instructional coaching.  We plan to continue a new strand of PLC training, which begins in August. We will also soon be announcing new learning opportunities in the areas of mentoring and instructional coaching for teacher leaders.

This is an exciting and challenging time.  Please know that we are working tirelessly to provide the types of support that will help your district’s journey into teacher leadership development be a successful one.  As you begin thinking about your district’s future plans, I would encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Framework of Learning Supports linked above.  You will find many other helpful supports for enhancing teacher leadership in your district on the Iowa Department of Education’s website.  Just do a search for TLC or teacher leadership and know that new resources are being added to the site regularly.  I would also encourage you to contact us by email or phone at GPAEA if you have ideas or needs relative to your TLC plan.  We will be communicating developments and opportunities as they become known through multiple avenues, including this blog and our website, but there is really no substitute for a good conversation as we begin our work together. We want to hear from you.  Also, please remember that all of our trainings are for all of our districts.  We want to help you build your teacher leadership capacity now, regardless of where you are in the TLC application process.  Thank you for all of your hard work on the behalf of the kids and families of SE Iowa and have a great May….And …oh yeah….Go Cubs!

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