On the heels of the “METLife Survey of the American Teacher,” which shows that 23% of teachers nationwide are very or extremely interested in hybrid roles, teacher leaders have been imagining innovative career paths at Education Week Teacher’sTeaching Ahead: A Roundtable.”  From creative roles like teacher life coaches to hybrid administrators and professors, they’re proposing exciting possibilities and looking for more ideas for the approximately 736,000 teachers interested in leading their profession.

How do we turn these concepts into reality?  Are we closer to creating dream pathways to retain teachers than we realize?  Better yet, can teachers take charge of scaling concept careers that allow us to lead without leaving the classroom?

I believe we can. And must. We just can’t wait for our dream jobs to appear on their own. There are four steps to creating new career lattices for teachers, all of which must be teacher-initiated:

•    Define clear standards of teacher leadership.
•    Model solutions for managing time, space, and responsibilities in a hybrid role.
•    Catalyze demand for hybrid roles by helping stakeholders understand how such positions benefit students and schools.
•    Advocate for rewarding, realistic compensation models.

Confession: I’m a teacherpreneur, already living out a dream role as a teacher leader. I feel a little bit like I’ve gotten to jump to the head of the line. But I know that I must share in the responsibility of taking these positions to scale. In this four-post series on “Leading Between the Lines,” I’ll be examining each step of developing teacher-initiated career lattices.

Define clear standards of teacher leadership. 

Let’s start with the standards.  Policymakers love them.  Forty-six states have signed on for the Common Core State Standards for student learning.  Why don’t we create a set for teacher leadership?

As it turns out…we already have.  In 2008, the Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium produced the Teacher Leader Model Standards (TLMS).  Read them here.  One quote on the home page really stands out:

“The purpose of these standards…is to stimulate dialogue.  Teachers, administrators, policymakers, and other stakeholders should discuss what knowledge, skills, and competencies teachers need in order to become leaders in their schools, districts, and the profession.”

Join the conversation about the standards.

These standards have the potential to anchor teacher leader roles with clarity and purpose. We need to expand the conversation, spreading awareness of the standards to our colleagues, then administrators in our schools and beyond.

Great conversations about teacher leadership, hybrid roles, and the standards are already underway in the Center for Teaching Quality’s Collaboratory, a virtual network of teachers transforming teaching. Join the Collaboratory to connect, learn, and collaborate with others who want to bring about change in our profession.

For example, in the Collaboratory’s CTQ-FL lab, members are preparing to initiate dialogue with new state education commissioner Tony Bennett about the standards. We’re developing our very own exemplars of the standards at work to help Bennett and the Florida State Board of Education understand how they can help transform teaching and learning in our state.

Also, in Hillsborough County we’re using the TLMS to screen applicants for the district’s new Teacher Leader positions, 15 hybrid roles where teachers will lead. And still teach. We’re asking questions like:

How have you fostered a spirit of collaboration among your colleagues?

When have you mentored someone?

How do you incorporate the research and data into your strategies?

In my next post, I’ll describe what CTQ’s teacherpreneurs have learned about how pioneers in hybrid roles can reconcile boundaries of time, space, and priorities.

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