Developing Teaming Capacity of District-Level Teacher Leaders in Service of System Coherence
CitationAdams, Anda M. 2015. Developing Teaming Capacity of District-Level Teacher Leaders in Service of System Coherence. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractIn recent years, school districts have paid increased attention to closing opportunity and achievement gaps while raising performance standards for all students. Historically, teaching has been characterized as professionally isolating, with teachers often operating independently in their own classrooms. Compounding the effects of this isolation, district central offices initially emerged to guarantee compliance with laws and regulations, and to implement necessary business activities. However, reaching every student in every classroom every day with high quality teaching requires systemic instructional leadership that begins with each classroom teacher and extends all the way to a district’s superintendent. In Bellingham Public Schools, central office administrators, teacher leaders, principals, and teachers have been grounded in a common approach to instruction oriented toward fulfilling the goals of its strategic plan, The Bellingham Promise. The district’s increased use of teacher leaders to help implement district-wide instructional improvements coincides with the transformation of central office leadership into a strong support for great teaching and learning in schools. This strategic leadership project sought to develop district-level teacher leaders into a collaborative team delivering coherent support to teachers across the district. The capstone outlines how these teacher leaders needed to transition from working independently in assigned content areas to collaborating as a team to effectively support teachers more holistically. Leveraging their unique position bridging teachers in the classroom and administrators in central office, I strove to identify how this team could increase coherence across the school system. While my role leading the team was limited by the duration of my residency, the leading indicators from central administrators, principals, teachers, and the team members themselves suggest that the team helped manage the tension that exists with implementing education reform between district-directed priorities and site-based autonomy to deliver on those priorities. This analysis includes both tactical and strategic implications for Bellingham Public Schools, as well as ideas for how these findings inform teacher leadership and central office transformation in the broader education sector.
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