In an article in the most recent edition of Education Outlook, Fairfax County Schools Superintendant Jack Dale shares his vision for the “21st century teacher-leader.” He claims the current system of negotiated contracts, 10-month work, various pay schemes, etc. are moving the teaching profession “toward an hourly, blue-collar, piecemeal work paradigm.” We need to stop thinking of teaching as an “individual sport” and reframe it into a “team sport.”
His basic suggestion is to create “Teacher-Leader” positions in each school. These teachers will work 12 months a year (and be compensated accordingly), and in addition to their instructional duties will focus on school improvement, feeder/cluster improvement, new teacher training/mentoring, extended student learning for struggling students, and helping students gain transition skills within and across grades.
Dale calls this plan a distributed-leadership model, in that teacher-leaders will share some responsibilities with administrators in professional development and school improvement. He notes that there will certainly be policy concerns that will need to be addressed in the adoption of this model, both at the school and district levels. The most basic of these concerns are:
Principals will need to create a purposeful school-improvement plan, with very specific expectations, duties and functions for each school employee. Some duties may require teachers to work outside the “regular school day,” which presents a huge culture shift within most public schools.
Human Resources will need to recognize the different duties that will be associated with the teacher-leadership positions, and be flexible with how and when these teachers can accomplish their work.
Collective bargaining rights must also be preserved, and each state will need to consider how teachers and principals can change to and from the “normal” teacher contract and the full-time contract.
Budgets will need to be examined, and positions in the district eliminated due to their job function being folded into the teacher-leaders’ duties.
Dale concludes that the roles of teachers are changing, and with it we need to change how education is delivered and received. He notes that with advancing technology, learning opportunities are becoming available around the clock and teachers must start working within that “24/7/365 space.”
To read Dale’s full article, visit http://www.aei.org/outlook/101053