Smith co-authors ARISE blog on development of teacher leaders

By: Brett Criswell, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Science Education, West Chester University
Wendy Smith, Ph.D., Research Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Gregory Rushton, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry; Director, Tennessee STEM Education Center, Middle Tennessee State University
Jan Yow, Ph.D., Professor, Instruction & Teacher Education, University of South Carolina
Christine Lotter, Ph.D., Professor, Instruction & Teacher Education, University of South Carolina
Sally Ahrens, M.S., Research Associate, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Few areas of inquiry in education have gotten more attention recently than teacher leadership. There have been numerous publications devoted to this area:

*16,100 Google scholar entries in the decade between 2010 and 2020;
*Two comprehensive reviews of this scholarship (York-Barr & Duke, 2004; Wenner & Campbell, 2017);
*Several national (e.g., Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium, 2011) and state (e.g., Kentucky Department of Education, 2015) frameworks describing it; and
*Considerable funded efforts to support teacher leadership development (e.g., Noyce Track 3 grants).

Nonetheless, there is still much to be understood about teacher leadership in its contemporary form. For instance, Smylie and Eckert (2018) distinguish between teacher leader — the person — and teacher leadership — the process, and note that the literature has paid much more attention to the empirical description of leaders than the theoretical consideration of leadership. Additionally, while teacher leadership has been posited as a means to increase teacher satisfaction and therefore retention in the profession (e.g., Dauksas & White, 2010), there is little solid evidence for this relationship, nor any clear insights into what the mechanism for this would be. Elsewhere, we (Criswell et al., 2018) have defined teacher leadership as:

*An individual gains a deep understanding of educational practice, and of her or himself in relation to that practice and to the system (both locally and more broadly) within which they operate.
*Through that understanding the individual is able to work with others to develop a vision for producing innovation in the system, which, within school systems, means improving the practice of teaching and learning.
*As part of realizing that vision, the individual is able to empower others to promote change, and is able to modify and marshal available resources in a manner that ensures that this change is both productive and sustainable.

Underlying the first bullet point is the assumption that in order to function as teacher leaders, individuals must understand teaching at the level of practice and at the system level –- they must evolve a professional vision that allows them to see practice and the system as leaders. In this blog, we share some thoughts on how we see professional vision impinging on teacher leadership development and, potentially, on retention.

Read more: