Last weekend I stepped in horse manure more times than I thought I would when I left for a leadership conference. That aside it was an eye-opening and awe-inspiring weekend at the National Board Leadership Conference at Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop. The lodge was beautiful and so were the trails, horse poop and all.
What I really brought back with me that fits in this blog post however is the leadership framework from the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession. I spent a lot of time engrossed in the framework and thinking about my classroom and my leadership roles in my building, district, and area. Most of my leadership has concentrated around the implementation of the Common Core and I was able to sit and make some connections to how these new standards have allowed me and would allow others to be better teacher leaders.
The leadership framework identifies three characteristics and conditions that allow teacher leaders to flourish. They are knowledge and skills, dispositions, and roles and opportunities. What I think every teacher, especially myself can take responsibility for, foster and grow on their own is knowledge and skills. There are five categories of knowledge and skills that the framework identifies as needed to be effective teacher leaders; working with adult learners, communication, collaboration, knowledge of content and pedagogy, and systems thinking.
As I pondered this framework, my work as a teacher leader and working with the Common Core I decided I would address each one of the five in a separate post and reflect on how the standards and teacher leadership go together. I am going to begin this time with knowledge of content and pedagogy. This one really helps me to see why teachers should be working with the Common Core as much as they can. Based on this framework, leaders should be embracing the new standards while encouraging and helping others to do the same.
Under knowledge of content and pedagogy, the knowledge and skills required are:
- Strong subject matter knowledge including assessment strategies
- The ability to analyze both subject matter strategies and pedagogical strategies
- Personal experience using effective pedagogical strategies in the classroom
- Ability to assist colleagues at multiple entry points to increase content knowledge and classroom application
So how do I see these tying to the Common Core State Standards? Well, more than seeing them reflected in the standards themselves I see them reflected in the application and adoption of the standards in the classroom. I believe that having a strong knowledge of subject matter includes the CCSS. Teacher leaders who want to be a true leader and have strong knowledge of their subject and assessment strategies will be working hard to include the CCSS and though it may be a new and different lens through which they express their subject matter and assess it, inclusion of the CCSS in these two pieces of their teaching practice will make them a leader in their buildings and districts.
It takes a dedicated teacher to sit down with their subject matter concepts and analyze them to apply pedagogical strategies that meet the Common Core State Standards. Teachers who take the time to do this will increase their practice and ability, as well as their leadership capacity and ability to set an example and help others. Taking the Common Core Standards and applying pedagogical strategies in their classroom will allow teachers to have the personal experience it takes to help others. It takes a teacher who can walk the walk to effectively talk the talk and using the standards themselves is the best way to effect change.
Having these knowledge and skills will help teacher leaders be able to assist colleagues at multiple entry points. A true teacher leader will take the CCSS by the reigns and use their skills and enthusiasm in their classrooms. This experiences will allow them to reflect on their practice at multiple stages and help others in the most authentic way. By remembering the struggles a teacher goes through in their own practice a teacher leader can empathize with struggles and know when to celebrate the successes, not to mention offer advice and sound pedagogical examples and applications.
I don’t necessarily think that the Common Core State Standards explicitly lead teachers to become leaders nor progress in the skills and knowledge in the framework. I do however wholeheartedly believe that those teachers who are leaders in our schools are and should be adopting the CCSS and using their new knowledge, struggles and successes to drive sound instruction, student engagement, growth and both college and career readiness.
There is another leadership conference coming up in November, so if you are or know of any nationally board certified teachers who want to be empowered to be leaders and inspired to continually improve their practice then register for sure. It is always held at a beautiful and awe-inspiring the place. The next one is in Stevenson, WA at the Skamania Lodge.