Assistant Superintendent Todd Wirt created a Wake County (N.C.) Teacher Leader Corps of 700 teacher leaders that provides them with structured opportunities to hone their leadership skills to build the capacity of the district’s teachers to use technology effectively.
District: Wake County
State: North Carolina
Source: Discovery Education
The Wake County Teacher Leadership Corps’ story began on a playground. Not your traditional playground with mulch, swings and a slide, but a digital playground where children text, FaceTime and play Candy Crush till the sun goes down. This playground is located on a device that is nestled in the palm of their hands. It is ever present, available, and changing. As adults we wouldn’t leave our children alone on a traditional playground and we cannot leave them on a digital one either.
In light of this reality, in collaboration with Discovery Education, Dr. Todd Wirt and other leaders began to explore ways to equip teachers in the Wake County Public School System with the resources and strategies that would best utilize devices and other digital resources to engage children in their learning; thus, the creation of Teacher Leader Corps (TLC). TLC builds the capacity of teachers through effective professional development, opportunities designed to explore new strategies in a safe environment, while also building a sense of community through the purposeful grouping of teachers with similar experiences.
Teacher Leader Corps is a three-year partnership through which each of our 170 schools selected 4 teachers to join the Corps. Schools drew from a pool of talented teachers that had potential to be leaders but who had not yet served in leadership positions. Approximately 700 teachers were then divided into 29 cohorts, meeting five times during the school year. During this time, teachers developed their leadership skills and learned how to integrate a variety of digital tools designed to effectively engage students. Educators focused on creating centers-based learning environments, developing authentic assessments, and evaluating student work through the use of protocols. Teachers served as leaders in their schools by opening up their classrooms as learning labs and facilitating learning sessions with their peers. These practices will continue into years two and three.
Success of the Corps is identified as building teacher capacity to facilitate student learning with digital resources. To do this effectively, the district partnered with Discovery Education to provide high quality professional development for teachers to support their transition to a digital learning environment.
Coordinating this work at the district level, a small team assembles regularly to ensure Corps members have the necessary resources in their schools and classrooms to continue exploring new strategies. This planning team works closely with Discovery Education’s team to provide instructional strategies and best practices to the Corps. Most important, the district team is available in order to support Corps members as thought partners, resources generators, or cheerleaders who help each teacher persevere.
Upon completion of year 1, Teacher Leader Corps’ results show an exponential increase in the use of digital resources, specifically with non-video assets. Teachers have communicated a sense of confidence, empowerment, and renewed love for the teaching profession. Furthermore, as they have grown their leadership skills, their passion and excitement for learning has spread to other educators across the district, with more than 11,000 teachers having received training from a Corps member. Moreover, students are using digital resources to explore and engage in their learning. This is evident through the increased student usage data across the district.
Learn more about the Teacher Leadership Corps here.