WASHINGTON — As students and teachers across the country head back to school, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards today unveiled “Commit to Lead,” a new online community that makes it easy for educators to share ideas for teacher leadership and collaborate to bring them to fruition. The community enables educators everywhere to provide feedback and vote on each other’s ideas, allowing the most talked about ideas to rise to the top so they can gain traction and prominence in the field. Commit to Lead is the online platform of Teach to Lead, an initiative to promote teacher leadership convened by the Department and the National Board.
“Commit to Lead directly engages educators in defining what teacher leadership can and should look like in their communities, so that collectively we can help make teacher leadership part of the fabric and culture of every school,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “It builds on the great work that already exists in the field, and invites the creation of new ideas. It represents one step in our ongoing commitment to listen to educators and support their vital leadership of their profession.”
Commit to Lead invites members to post quick ideas—in under 300 words—that advance teacher leadership in their school, district or state to address a pressing problem in education and improve student outcomes. Reflecting the diversity of teacher leadership efforts, members are asked to select from a broad list of categories for their idea. To ensure a productive dialogue, the community does not allow political statements or advertisements, only genuine ideas and input to advance teacher leadership. Members can promote their ideas on social media, helping to spur the conversation beyond their own school buildings and districts, and can search existing ideas by keywords and location.
“In all true professions, the voices of accomplished practitioners are at the forefront of shaping policy and practice—the same must be true for teaching,” said Ronald Thorpe, president and CEO of the National Board. “The National Board is working with the U.S. Department of Education and supporters to build a continuum in teaching that makes Board certification the norm for teachers and supports multiple paths for more experienced teachers to spread their expertise to their colleagues through both formal and informal roles.”
Ideas posted during a beta launch of Commit to Lead include:
- Adding teacher perspective to state policy by inviting state education leaders to visit classrooms to speak directly with teachers and inviting educators to participate in feedback sessions and working groups at the State Department of Education. (Submitted by member in Plantsville, Conn.)
- Building a pipeline of new teacher leaders by creating a partnership between a college of education and a local K-12 school connecting freshman pre-service teachers with established teacher leaders. (Submitted by a member in Palatine, Ill.)
- Starting an online professional learning community for Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers to share resources and strategies for integrating literacy into their classes. (Submitted by a member in Hattiesburg, Miss.)
- Training lead teachers to serve as peer observers to provide feedback and support to their fellow teachers. (Submitted by a member in Palo Alto, Calif.)
The National Board is also working to cultivate teacher leadership through its Network to Transform Teaching (NT3) initiative, which is engaging labor, management and practitioners across six sites to strengthen polices and structures for teachers to attain Board certification and serve in instructional leadership roles in high-need schools. Through its Teacher Leadership Initiative with the National Education Association and the Center for Teaching Quality, the National Board has helped develop a set of teacher leadership competencies, which articulate teacher leadership along three pathways: instructional leadership, policy leadership and association leadership.
The Department of Education has promoted teacher leadership in multiple ways through grants such as Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED), Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) and Investing in Innovation (i3), as well as through programs such as the RESPECT Project, which engaged educators in a nationwide dialogue for transforming the teaching profession and resulted in a blueprint. In addition, through the Teaching and Principal Ambassador Fellows program, educators spend a year at the Department in integrated roles to shape education policy and programs.
About Teach to Lead (www.teachtolead.org)
Teach to Lead is a joint initiative of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the U.S. Department of Education focused on expanding opportunities for teacher leadership in ways that enhance student learning and make it possible for teachers to stay in the classroom while leading in the profession.