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Spotlight on District Partnerships

The UW College of Education Teacher Leadership Program partners with Anacortes and Nooksack School Districts to offer a university program that focuses on the actual work demands of teacher leaders and supports district leaders to leverage teacher leadership around district instructional goals.  Our goal – to develop the empowerment of teachers statewide and bring high quality professional learning opportunities to teachers’ work settings.

Spotlight on District Partnership - Nooksack Valley teachers analyzing inquiry cycle data during a monthly teacher leadership seminar, November 2012, Nooksack Valley High School library.Nooksack Valley teachers analyzing inquiry cycle data during a monthly teacher leadership seminar

Q: What prompted you to partner with the UW Teacher Leadership programs?

Cindy Simonsen: I learned about the UW Teacher Leadership Program and attended a meeting at the UW.  Chrysan [Gallucci] reached out to our district when she heard about the work we were doing around the Cycle of Inquiry.  The UW Teacher Leadership program sounded like a perfect match for the robust professional development we wanted to offer teacher leaders.

Cindy Stockwell: We have had a long standing practice in Nooksack for involving teacher leaders in the work of supporting teaching and learning at a district level.  We have teacher teams that support the core areas of Math, Literacy and Science.  In the process of developing a project that implements the cycle of inquiry as a structure to support teacher growth and increase student achievement we were introduced to the University of Washington's Teacher leadership program. The concept is to formally develop a pipeline of teacher leaders with a series of courses that bring a critical foundation of knowledge in coaching, professional learning communities, inquiry, data analysis and assessment and more.

Q: What are you goals for investing in teacher leadership through this partnership, and how is the program meeting these goals thus far?

Cindy Simonsen: We believe one critical component of creating a school wide culture of continuous improvement is the empowerment of well-trained teacher leaders.  Also, teacher leaders support our principals’ instructional leadership responsibilities and are positive teacher role models.  The teacher leaders created a presentation for the district leadership team to share their new learning.

Cindy Stockwell: Our goal is to develop a cadre of teacher leaders that can support principals and teachers at the building level in the work of improving the instructional core through supporting teacher inquiry as mentors, role models, lead learners that can both support principals and teachers in this complex work. I saw the teacher leaders’ ‘fingerprints’ on the lesson plans, protocols, and templates in our retreats and release days. The times I had opportunity to see our teacher leaders in action in front of staff or facilitating a small group during inquiry affirmed for me what an important investment in them and in  the UW- TL program will be for our staff, and more importantly, our students.

Q: What are your thoughts about the teacher leaders experience in the program so far. Specifically, what are folks saying about the intensive in-person summer session?

Cindy Simonsen: I was unable to attend any of the summer because of a previously planned trip to China to visit my son.  When I returned I was amazed at the level of excitement generated by the teachers involved with the UW program.  First everyone raved about the quality of the content and instruction.  “Best PD I’ve ever had” and “Thanks for making this possible” and “We have to share this info with principals”.  Very powerful comments from several different people!  Additionally, the teachers are very motivated to make a positive difference for their schools and the district.
Cindy Stockwell: The outcomes of the summer intensive program, where teacher leaders studied and thought about Professional Learning Communities and teacher inquiry was immediately observable in our school retreats and inquiry work.  Principals and teacher colleagues were very appreciative of the supports and the voice TLs added to the work.

Without a strong district-university partnership, a teacher leader could complete a program on a university campus (and even learn a lot) without her district leaders knowing what she learned or how to utilize her new knowledge and skills. This is a big concern, one we refer as “all dressed up with nowhere to go.” UW faculty and leaders in partner school districts have co-created district-specific program goals (such as building capacity to facilitate teacher inquiry) and have, likewise, asked for teacher leaders’ input on what they would like the program to accomplish.

This past summer, the UW Teacher Leadership Programs began partnerships with Nooksack Valley and Anacortes school districts. Twelve teachers from each school district took part in an intensive two-week institute in July.  They will take one UW graduate-level online course per academic quarter during 2012-2013 and attend monthly seminars run by UW College of Education faculty in their school districts. The eleven-month program culminates in June, 2013, with successful candidates earning a Certificate in Teacher Leadership from the UW College of Education.

For more information, please contact: Chrysan Gallucci, Director of Teacher Leadership Programs or Beth Boatright, Associate Director of Teacher Leadership Programs

Or learn more online about the Teacher Leadership Certificate Program or the Masters in Instructional Leadership (MIL)

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