Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Teacher Leadership Planning to Begin at Hudson

Last week we learned that our application for a Teacher Leadership Planning Grant was approved by the Iowa Department of Education. Our appropriation of approximately $7,000 will be used for activities directly related to the planning of a teacher leadership model unique to Hudson. The guiding principle for this work will be grounded in an objective of strengthening instruction in the classroom. At this time we are in the process of recruiting and identifying people to serve on our planning committee. A well rounded committee will include a variety of stakeholders ranging from teachers and administrators to parents and community members. If you are interested in participating in this very important work, please contact my office immediately. We will be working under an aggressive timeline, as it will be our intention to submit a proposal to the Iowa Department of Education for consideration by the end of January. October 25th has been designated as a beginning date for this work.

To remind you, this is an opportunity to strengthen and elevate the teaching profession in Iowa. Legislation and models have been proposed in the past, but never before have we had a mechanism to fund such a bold initiative. When fully implemented, this will be an investment in Iowa schools of $150 Million annually. At roughly $310 per pupil, that equates to an increase in funding of approximately $224,750 for the Hudson Community School District. 

The work of the committee will focus specifically on developing a plan for teacher leadership in the district. While the plan will be unique to Hudson, the Department offers 3 options to begin the conversation. However, there are five 'must haves' for each Iowa model:
  1. Minimum starting salary for new teachers of $33,500 (our district starting salary is currently $34,372)
  2. Improved entry into the profession (designed to strengthen mentoring and induction into the profession by ensuring new teachers have adequate supports in the classroom)
  3. Differentiated and meaningful teacher leadership roles
  4. A rigorous selection process for teacher leadership roles
  5. Professional development for teacher leaders that enables them to be successful in their roles

Options for Teacher Leadership-Baseline Model
The baseline model that formed the basis of the legislation is known as the Teacher Career Paths, Leadership Roles and Compensation Framework. It was derived from the work done by the Teacher Leadership and Compensation Task Force. It creates model, mentor, and lead teacher roles. All assignments for the teacher leaders are considered one year in length. The model teacher is described as one who models teaching full time and serves as a model of exemplary service, typically a teacher that could be observed delivering instruction for novice and career level teachers. The model teacher would receive extra compensation and an extended contract of five days. The second role in this framework is a Mentor Teacher. These teachers receive a larger salary supplement and an additional ten days of contract time. The caveat to this assignment is that mentor teachers should not have a teaching load exceeding seventy-five percent to allow them time to mentor other teachers. The third role are Lead teachers--those who teach fifty percent of the time, devoting the other half of their time to the planning and delivery of professional development, instructional coaching, the mentoring of other teachers, or the evaluation of student teachers. This instructor also would receive a larger salary supplement that the other teachers, while at the same time assuming an extended contract of fifteen days. It is important to note that the other ‘must haves’ (e.g. rigorous selection process) are necessary to implement this model of teacher leadership.

Options for Teacher Leadership-Instructional Coach Model
The instructional coach model was incorporated into the legislation to provide greater flexibility to school districts. Under the same premise that the system include the five ‘must have’s’, the instructional coach model was born. In addition to the model teacher (those who teach full time but serve as models of exemplary teaching practice with five additional contract days), this model features an instructional coach and a curriculum and professional development leader. While receiving a salary supplement, the instructional coach engages full time in instructional coaching and has a contract that is ten days longer than that of the career teacher. The model also provides for a curriculum and professional development leader, which does not require a specified teaching role. Additionally this teacher leader receives a salary supplement along with an extended contract of fifteen days. Primary responsibilities include planning and implementing professional development and curriculum that strengthens instruction in the classroom. 

Options for Teacher Leadership-Comparable Model
In an effort to provide even greater flexibility to school districts, the option of a comparable plan is available. The only guidelines in developing this plan are to include the five ‘must haves’ that honor the intent of the Teacher Leadership and Compensation legislation. Those five items are an increase in the minimum starting salary to $33,500, improved entry into the profession, differentiated multiple, meaningful teacher leadership roles, rigorous selection process, and aligned professional development.

The role of our planning committee will be to determine which model best fits the Hudson Community School District and ensure that we have incorporated the five 'must have's' into our plan. Again, if you are interested in serving on this very important committee please contact my office. Our committee will meet for the first time on October 25.

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