When teacher leaders boost student leaders: Dave and Esme

Last year—in conjunction with his own visit to Finland—Dave Orphal’s sophomores analyzed readings from Finnish Lessons and Surpassing Shanghai.

Then Dave issued a challenge: take your learning local.

Read about the results of this work, and take action to support teachers like Dave.

Dave Orphal and Esme, his student, planning for a bright future“Teachers and their students live where the ‘rubber’ of educational policy meets the ‘road’ of teaching and learning,” according to Dave Orphal, a teacher at Skyline High in Oakland, CA.

Skyline students choose “career academies.” Esme [pictured at left] joined the Education Academy, where she met Dave (Mr. Orphal to her).

Last year—in conjunction with Dave’s visit to Finland—Esme and other sophomores analyzed readings from Finnish Lessons and Surpassing Shanghai.

And Dave issued a challenge: take your learning local.

“I borrowed the whole framework from how CTQ works with teacher leaders like me,” said Dave. “Working in small groups, the students studied research, assessed approaches, and made recommendations grounded in classroom realities.”

Esme and her small group advocated for student involvement in teacher hiring processes, teacher agency in allocating professional development funds, and a “grow-your-own” teacher recruitment campaign.

The group presented their recommendations to the school’s faculty council. “I remember Mr. Orphal warning us, ‘They’re going to think you’re cute as soon as you stand up and start talking… that’s why you need solid research to back up your ideas,” Esme recalled. Research and all, their presentation didn’t seem to make much of an impact.

But a few months later, Esme was invited to serve as one of two students on Oakland’s Effective Teaching Task Force. She accepted the opportunity: “I read lots of research about teacher training and evaluation. This year, three schools are piloting the new evaluation system we recommended.”

Dave knows his blogging and advocacy efforts have made a difference in the policy arena, but stories like Esme’s keep him leading.  

“My experiences with CTQ definitely have an impact on the kids I work with every day,” said Dave, “and the kids that they will eventually teach.”

CTQ invests in teachers like Dave, who are transforming our public schools and the teaching profession each day. And Dave? He invests in students like Esme, the outstanding teacher leaders and engaged citizens of tomorrow.

Help us reach and inspire more Daves (and more Esmes): make a tax-deductible gift to the Center for Teaching Quality today.

How to reach and teach future teacher leaders