Collective leadership taps the potential of exceptional educators, like March-April blogging roundtable lead and 2013 Illinois Teacher of the Year Brian Curtin, and ensures the best outcomes for all students.

This March and April, CTQ’s second blogging roundtable is tackling the theme of collective leadership as it relates to the current educational landscape. With a strong legacy of teacher leadership already in place, it’s time for us to move beyond the model of individual (and exceptional) teacher leaders making incremental changes from inside the system. To truly create broad systems change and achieve educational equity, we need to tap the collective capacity of all teachers and administrators. We can only achieve this by investing in the development of all educators as leaders.

The next blogging lead, Brian Curtin (@BrianCurtinSHS), has a wealth of experience engaging in professional networks that spread the impact of collective leadership across his district, state, and country—creating better educational opportunities for the students in his classroom, and nationwide.

Brian is an English teacher at Schaumburg High School in Township High School District 211. He has started conversations about pedagogy and policy as a speaker for the Illinois Speech and Theatre Association (ISTA), the Illinois Association of Teachers of English (IATE), and the Raising Student Achievement Conference (RSAC). In 2013, the Illinois State Board of Education named Brian the Illinois Teacher of the Year, an honor that gave him the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. and learn about educational legislation alongside other expert “teachers of the year” from across the country.

At the district level, Brian has taken on numerous leadership roles to support teachers and improve outcomes for students. He spreads his teaching expertise as an in-district instructor, designing and delivering professional development workshops for district employees to earn continuing education credits. As the New Educator Induction Co-coordinator, Brian helps develop new teachers in his district; as an EdTech Teacher Leader, he instructs teachers on innovative ways to integrate 1:1 devices in the classroom. Brian also serves on his school’s professional development executive team.

Brian believes his collective leadership experiences have made him a better informed, more involved teacher leader.

By building networks and connecting with educators, I’ve fortified a personal commitment to challenge myself to grow as an educator every day; consequently, I share that commitment every day with my students, who embrace it within the classroom and outside of it as well.

He elaborates, “My involvement has helped me to evolve my own thought-leadership by contemplating commonly accepted educational truths: the most important skills to develop in students and how to assess them; what a grade means and the best way to calculate it; how to evaluate best practices in the classroom; how to continuously promote and support professional growth; and the roles teachers should play in classrooms, schools, districts, and policymaking.”

Brian is an exceptional teacher leader (and colleague), but he is not the exception. Many of our nation’s teachers are leading in bold ways, yet they are not well known. Please join Brian and the rest of the CTQ community in the collective leadership blogging roundtable. By commenting and sharing, you can help spread the word about collective leadership and its impact on students and their communities.

Continue the conversation with us in the CTQ Collaboratory. Together we can deepen and expand the growing influence of teachers like Brian—and press policymakers and administrators to advance the bold brand of teacher leadership that America’s public school students deserve.

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