Jana Bryant

Jana Bryant

By Jana Bryant

Barnett Berry, one of the authors of Teaching 2030: What We Must Do for Our Students and Our Public Schools, believes “it is time to blur the lines of distinction between those who teach and those who lead.” This distinction ought to become even more blurred with Kentucky’s Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES).

The goal for PGES is to devise a fair system to measure teacher and leader effectiveness. As principals are being asked to conduct more teacher observations than ever before, it is important that these individuals are strong instructional leaders.

As noted by The Wallace Foundation, it is difficult for secondary school principals to have expertise in all of the subject areas their schools cover. Their ability to offer guidance on instruction is more limited than that of their elementary counterparts (“The School Principal As Leader: Guiding Schools To Better Teaching and Learning,” 2013). Could the emergence of highly effective teacher leaders help administrators develop a strong professional learning community of teachers as they improve classroom instruction and academic achievement of students in our middle and high schools?

There is an exciting conversation happening across Kentucky about promoting ideas for teacher leadership.

To increase the impact of the most effective teachers, they are being called upon to conduct peer observations, coach colleagues, lead professional learning, develop curriculum, create assessments, model best practices and mentor new teachers. Great teachers want these types of opportunities for professional growth without having to leave the classroom. It is imperative that states and school systems rethink current job descriptions and pay structures to allow their great teachers to have an even more powerful impact beyond their classroom.

Take Barnett Berry’s challenge to “blur the lines” between “those who teach and those who lead.” Administrators, it is important to recognize teachers who demonstrate leadership. Use the observations required by PGES to find those teachers. Who is using highly effective instructional practices? Who is experiencing success?

Teachers, we need to honor one another and celebrate the success of others in our profession. Look to those teacher leaders for motivation and ideas to improve instruction in every classroom. Katzenmeyer and Moller wrote in 2001, “Within every school there is a sleeping giant of teacher leadership, which can be a strong catalyst for making change.” Working together, administrators, teachers and teacher leaders will awaken “the sleeping giant of teacher leadership” and make a difference in every classroom in every school all across Kentucky.

Jana Bryant is a 2014-15 Hope Street Group Kentucky state teacher fellow and the math staff developer for Daviess County Public Schools in Owensboro.