Supported, Trusted Teachers Deliver
Students entered the year as dependent learners wanting answers, but not willing or capable of seeking answers independently. At the end of the year, students asked questions, sought answers independently, critically analyzed the answers they found with their peers, and shared their learning with each other readily - Teachers Learning and Leading Program Participant (Campbell, Lieberman, & Yashkina, 2015, p.14 )
Ontario teachers in the Teacher Learning and Leadership Program (TLLP) are given support, training, time, and funding with which to develop teaching and learning projects of their choosing. Participants then share their projects and insights at a TLLP conference and through varied online platforms and face-to-face activities.
Teachers’ projects have focused on a variety of topics, for example: technology, differentiated instruction, literacy, numeracy, student assessment, students with special needs, professional learning communities, creativity, inquiry, digital citizenship, higher order thinking, critical thinking, classroom management, English language learners, student engagement, arts, science, transition years, community and parental engagement, Aboriginal education, mental health, social justice, gender-based learning, inclusion, French, religious education, and environmental education (Campbell, et al., 2015, pp. 5-6).
The Ontario Ministry of Education, which initiated the Teacher Learning and Leadership Program in 2007 and the Ontario Teachers' Federation (union) partner in leadership of TLLP. Participants are experienced teachers who are chosen by a committee consisting of representatives of the teachers' union and Ministry (Ontario Teachers Federation, 2016).
In May, participants attend a two-day training session in which the teachers are supported in gaining skills to manage and share their projects. The following school year teachers implement their projects. The subsequent November, at the Sharing the Learning Summit, teachers share their completed projects and their own learning including what they have learned about leadership.
Through participation in Teacher Learning and Leadership Program teachers strengthen their confidence, knowledge, skills, and teaching practices. Participants' students have stronger engagement in learning and increased achievement (Campbell & Lieberman, 2016). Additional areas in which participants have seen progress in their students that they attribute to the Teachers Learning and Leading Program are motivation, attitude and behavior, technology skills, innovation, character, and leadership (Campbell et al., 2015, pp. 13-14).
Some participants plan and implement their project solo. Many work in groups. In working with a group and in presenting their projects, participants develop insights and skills for leadership of adults. With their strengthened leadership skills participants further spread and support best practices for students.
For teachers’ professional learning to make a difference in students’ learning, support during implementation is important. (See, for example, Frost, 2012; Joyce & Showers, 2002). For support to teachers in planning and implementing their new strategies, in addition to the required two-day training, participants engage in professional development structures of their choosing. Professional development formats participants have chosen include:
. Collaborative learning
. Professional dialog
. Self-reflection on their teaching
. Analysis of student data/student work
. Reviewing research
. Conducting action research
. Attending workshops
. Attending conferences
. Taking courses
. Connecting with external experts
. Working with a community/service organization
(Campbell et al., 2015, pp. 6-7)
Not only do participants' own students benefit, but through TLLP participants develop their ability to effectively support the professional learning of other teachers. The participants share teaching materials, techniques, and understandings they have developed through their projects. Participants support peers' professional learning in both face-to-face and online formats for example at workshops and professional development sessions, staff meetings, online media, professional learning communities, conference presentations, modeling/classroom visits, and mentoring. Participants publish articles related to their TLLP experience in school newsletters, professional publications, and academic journals. Mentoring Moments (http://mentoringmoments.ning.com) is an online community on the Ning platform that many TLLP participants use to share learning stemming from their project (Campbell et al., 2015, pp. 11-13).
Empowered adults contribute more strongly to their organization (See, for example, Bogler & Somech, 2005) and beyond. TLLP participants are empowered through choosing the focus of their projects, choosing their professional development support, receiving training in leadership skills, having access to platforms through which to communicate about their project, and receiving funding.
A book that draws on the Teachers Learning and Leadership Program to illustrate the benefits of teachers’ leadership is Teacher Learning and Leadership - Of, By, and For Teachers by Ann Lieberman, Carol Campbell, Anna Yashkina, published 2017 by Routledge.
Bogler, R. & Somech, A. (2005). Organizational citizenship behavior in school: How
does it relate to participation in decision making? Journal of Educational
Administration (43) 4/5, 420-438. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.une.idm.oclc.org/central/docview/220433680/D2FCC10465C34446PQ/8?accountid=12756
Campbell, C. & Lieberman, A. (2016, April). Of, by, and for teachers: A partnership with
the Ministry, Teachers' Federation and the research team. In A. Lieberman (Chair),
With, by, and for teachers: Collaborative public scholarship in teacher learning and
leadership. Participants: L. Amato, P. Anthony, C. Campbell, A. Yashkina, Presidential
Session at American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Washington,
Campbell, C., Lieberman, A., & Yashkina, A. with Hauseman, C. & Rodway, J.
(2015). The Teacher Learning and Leadership Program: Research report for
2014-15. Retrieved from http://www.otffeo.on.ca/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/11/TLLP-Report-2015.pdf
Frost, D. (2012). From professional development to system change: Teacher leadership
and innovation. Professional Development in Education, 38(2), 205-227 Retrieved
Joyce, B. & Showers, B. (2002). Student achievement through staff development.
Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Lieberman, A., Campbell, C., & Yashkina, A. (2017).Teacher learning and leadership - Of, by, and for teachers. London: Routledge.
Ontario Teachers Federation. (2016).Teacher learning and leadership program.
Retrieved from http://www.otffeo.on.ca/en/learning/teacher-learning-and-leadership-program/