by Bill Guy
Teacher Leadership Cohort participants
The Teacher Leadership Cohort is the most exciting and rewarding project I have had the privilege of participating in during my 12 years as an educator,” says Ashley Cooper.
The Conejo Valley biology and health teacher is one of 23 CTA members statewide involved in professional development projects funded by a $40,000 grant from the National Education Association. Facilitated by CTA’s Instruction and Professional Development Department, the grant helps members assume new or expanded leadership roles as advocates in improving instruction and professional practices.
TLC participants, chosen based on their interest and potential as leaders with passion for instruction and professional practice, participated in a CTA leadership academy over the summer. Since then, the participants have been meeting in four regional subgroups aligned with CTA’s four geographic regions, engaging in individual or team projects focused on advocacy.
Participants are also learning how to connect their advocacy to the work of their union, ultimately enabling CTA to strengthen its capacity to support learning.
At press time, NEA agreed to fund a second cohort of CTA teacher leaders. Check www.cta.org for details.
Here are four TLC participants who currently have projects under way.
Stacey Wire Ward, Palm Springs Teachers Association
“Everything in the educational literature says you need to put the best teachers in the toughest positions, but if that’s the case, what are you going to do to keep them there?” asks cohort member Stacey Wire Ward, a consulting teacher working with Palm Springs Unified’s Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) induction program.
Working with seven of her colleagues, Ward’s goal is to create a cohort of teacher leaders who will address the challenges of poverty as it impacts student and educator success. “We’re meeting regularly to discuss the book Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School, by Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan (Teachers College Press), which touts the premise professional capital is essential to teaching. Professional capital equals human capital plus social capital plus decisional capital. We’re testing the theory that a small group of committed individuals can make a big difference.”
Ashley Cooper, Unified Association of Conejo Teachers
Professional Capital is also the focus for Thousand Oaks High School’s Ashley Cooper, who is developing an online study around the book, including discussion forums and a detailed reflection guide to highlight the main points of the book, with the cooperation of her chapter and her school district. “The online format will allow educators across the U.S. to join these discussions, and I think that is valuable professionally,” says Cooper. (Her online site can be found at mymoodle.vcoe.org.)
The Palm Springs group studying Professional Capital is using the beta version of Cooper’s study guide in their work, an example of how TLC members are collaborating across the state.
Barbara Ransom, Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association
“Teachers make the best teachers of other teachers,” say teachers utilizing the expertise of Santa Monica middle school math teacher Barbara Ransom, who also works with the AVID college readiness program and with Spark programs (workplace apprenticeships for students).
“We’re focused on best practices while we transition into teaching the Common Core Algebra 1 standards,” says Ransom, “basically trying to put professional development in the hands of educators in order to make it more relevant and useful.” (See Ransom’s Common Core Cohort blog at commoncorecohort.wordpress.com.)
Gabriela Orozco-Gonzalez, Montebello Teachers Association
An emphasis on professional development around the Common Core standards is also the emphasis for Gabriela Orozco-Gonzalez, teacher leader and Common Core facilitator at Montebello Gardens Elementary.
Through a technology-based community of practice called the Common Core Café, Orozco-Gonzalez is bringing together educators and administrators to improve student achievement. “The goal is to develop a core of master teachers who can inspire others, modeling the connections between the Common Core standards-based curriculum and technology, as we strive to create a community of practice with high expectations for student achievement,” she says.
Participants will share their learnings at an end-of-project showcase scheduled for February 2014.
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