Denver Teacher Leadership Summit

Leading from the Middle

There is a unique leadership position for those who work closely with both teachers and students, and with stakeholders who are some distance from students (e.g., the business community, state policymakers, higher education, or district central office personnel). Establishing school-based teacher leaders who can act in the space between classrooms and other agents in the educational ecosystem is critical for two reasons: 1) A teacher-leader who is immersed in a specific building can be a respected advocate for these specific needs, especially when it comes to informing policy decisions that are made by those outside of the school. 2) Teachers working full time in the classroom have limited opportunities to understand how district central offices, university partners, or other policy-making organizations work – unless they are released to spend substantial time outside of the school. A teacher leader who has the trust of teachers and students is in a unique position to explain the rationale behind policy decisions, and can help implement policies in ways that preserve the intent while being differentiated for the local context. Teacher leaders acting as negotiators, translators, or buffers in this middle space are critical components of school systems. They need designated time to access and understand the complexity of the educational landscape, and they need to be immersed enough in one building to authentically represent the voices closest to teaching and learning.

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Idea No. 246