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By Ryan Edwards
The notion of a solitary superman or superwoman leading a school doesn’t hold water any more, according to SUNY Plattsburgh Branch Campus Dean Stephen Danna.
That’s why he has collaborated with four local districts to write “Strengthening Teacher Leader Effectiveness” grants. These provide schools the means to train a league of heroes who can band together and forge direction as a team.
Funded by the New York State Education Department, the grants support Common Core implementation, data-driven instruction, collaborative coaching, and evidence-based observations while providing career pathways for educators interested in serving as instructional leaders.
Under these programs, teacher leaders develop the skills and understandings necessary to help their colleagues become better, more confident educators. Teacher leaders use cognitive coaching and other collaborative protocols to gather and analyze data; conduct peer observations; develop and implement Common Core curricula; and lead monthly discussions — all in the name of increasing student achievement.
SUNY Plattsburgh benefits too: Graduate students and professors provide professional development services, including evidence-based classroom observation; curriculum-writing models; data-driven instruction; Common Core literacy and mathematics teaching strategies; and the application of brain research to instruction. A portion of the grant also provides student teachers at SUNY Plattsburgh opportunities to work in these districts.
So far, these $80,000-$120,000 grants have been awarded to Fort Ann, Cambridge, Warrensburg and Broadalbin-Perth central school districts. They are two-year grants, but districts are welcome to re-apply.
“We believe that teacher leadership is essential for all districts to meet the needs of 21st century schools,” Danna said. “We have very competent teachers who can assume greater instructional leadership responsibilities … and that’s what we seek to do: to develop those skill sets, their knowledge, their confidence and their sense of grit.”
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