Coaching from Within: The Power of FES Teachers as Instructional Leaders

Target 2 – Leadership in a Student Centered Learning Environment: FWSU will foster development of teacher and student leaders who provide innovative opportunities for local and global student-centered learning.

Action Step – Provide multiple avenues for students and staff to lead, advocate, and serve within the school and community.

Indicator of Success – Teachers embrace the role of coach, facilitator and co-learner in a student-centered learning environment.

The professional learning of teachers is essential to the success of our students. Regardless of a teacher’s specific subject area, new discoveries in both content and the way we teach are constantly being made. While these new discoveries are what make our world engaging and exciting, they also require great teachers to be in a constant state of learning, just as we expect our students to be.

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Teacher leaders, sometimes called instructional coaches, help bridge the gap between a teacher’s need to have a deep understanding of their ever-changing profession and their ability to continuously learn while on the job. These highly-trained coaches typically work at the district or school level. They provide daily expertise by modeling best practices for their colleagues, co-teaching alongside other professionals in classrooms, and providing ongoing support, strategies and professional learning for teachers. They sometimes also work with a small number of students to address a specific challenge and consult with school staff in an effort to support and challenge all learners. In short, they become the “go to” person for a particular content area.

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There are many benefits of teachers as leaders and coaches. They allow schools to have in-house expertise that is easily and comfortably accessed by all staff. They become the ambassadors of professional development, attending trainings and bringing new information and ideas back to the entire building. They move fluidly between their work with adults and children. Empowering teachers as leaders boosts their investment in student and teacher success and allows schools to provide high-quality instruction for all.

In this type of shared leadership model, teacher leaders increase the efficiency of professional learning school-wide by facilitating conversations that do not rely solely on an administrator. As such, multiple professional learning opportunities can occur simultaneously. This allows schools to meet the specific needs of all teachers and students.

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At Fletcher, two teacher leaders work to support the learning of all students and staff. One specifically works in the area of literacy, while the other supports science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). They meet weekly with grade level teams to discuss and plan for the ongoing needs of all students. Their work in classrooms acts to both connect students to specific content expertise and inform the classroom teacher’s ongoing work with everyone.

To learn more about teachers as leaders and coaches, check out this article.

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