Schoodic Institute Education Research: A New Take on Teacher Leadership

By Catherine Schmitt, Science Communication Specialist

 

Over the course of his work with schools, teachers, and communities to engage students in locally relevant science, Schoodic Institute Education Research Director Bill Zoellick realized the importance of teacher leaders as partners who can amplify the work of Schoodic Institute is doing and make it sustainable. Teachers can influence other teachers and school decisions, change instructional practices, and affect state and national education policies. This kind of leadership is necessary to ensure that all students have access to locally relevant science learning opportunities. 

Research on teacher leadership provides guidance to these efforts, ensuring successful programs and positive impacts on students. But education researchers have different definitions of “teacher leadership.” Zoellick and Jill Harrison Berg set out to clarify terms and create a framework to advance the field of education science. They hosted discussions among some 70 participants in the American Educational Research Association’s Teacher Leadership Congress, and mapped and analyzed the ideas and common themes. They identified four key dimensions of teacher leadership (legitimacy, support, objectives, and methods). This last month, the results were published in the Journal of Professional Capital and Community.

“We hope this framework helps researchers and practitioners avoid talking past each other when they share new thinking about ‘teacher leadership,’ said Zoellick. “Jill and I hope that our work will improve our ability to improve support for teacher leaders, which, in turn, is all about improving what schools can provide to students.”

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