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Discussion: Lead Teachers and Teacher Leadership

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posted by: Misty Sato on October 31, 1998 at 1:05AM
subject: leading in school contexts
Hello everyone -
I have been an evaluator for the Oakland, CA project for a couple of years.
In most of my conversations with teachers about leadership at their
schools, they tell me that they are not sure how to interact with their
colleagues as a "leader" or a "coordinator" (we call this group of teachers
Coordinating Teachers). Most of the 60 elementary schools in Oakland are
not structured to foster collaborative working relationships among the
teachers so our proejct's teachers go back to their own classrooms and
rarely talk with other teachers about what they are doing in science. They
tell us how different it is for them to come to professional development
sessions where they have an opportunity to actually talk with their

The idea of teacher leadership has puzzled me for a while. It seems to me,
from some interviews with teachers in LSC projects, that a lot of school
contexts do not have collaborative environments and that the "lead" teachers
have to create ways to interact with their colleagues. These kinds of
professional interactions are quite
new to the teachers and have to be constructed as the teachers engage more
in a leadership capacity in his/her school or district. For example, if the
teachers are not used to talking about or analyzing classroom practice, then
when they try to engage in conversations about pedagogy they don't have the
language to discuss this with their colleagues.

Also, the idea of being a leader is unwelcomed by some teachers I've talked
with because it sets them apart from their colleagues (even if you don't use
the label leader) so they have to figure out how to they can represent
themselves to their colleagues strategically to avoid the status problems.
This is well-documented in the professinal development literature, but we
seem to be facing it all over again in our project.

These are just some observations. I would be curious to know what the
teachers in other projects say about their leadership roles within their
school settings.

Looking forward to more comments.

Misty Sato

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