Developing Teacher Leaders
Authors: Dava Coleman, Sheila Jones

1. Context of the Work
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1. Context of the Work
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The Partnership for Reform in Science and Mathematics (PRISM) is an NSF-funded comprehensive MSP grant.  The PRISM project has a dual purpose of having both an implementation component and a research component with an overarching mission to increase science and mathematics achievement for all P-12 students in order to improve their readiness for post-secondary education and careers by enhancing teacher quality, raising expectation for all stakeholders, and closing the achievement gaps through the collaboration of P-16 partners. 

The state leadership team developed a PRISM Lead Teacher definition document for partner K-12 districts to use to help the schools select excellent candidates.  The Defining Lead Teacher Roles and Responsibilities document (August 16, 2004) divides the work into four areas:  1) Leadership; 2) Professional learning; 3) Communication; and 4) Evaluation.  The purpose of the selection of Lead Teachers for PRISM was to identify teachers to lead within and beyond the classroom, influence others toward improved educational practice, and identify with and contribute to a community of teacher leaders.  Using the PRISM Lead Teacher definition document, PRISM staff worked individually with school principals to select their lead teacher(s).  

Each of the 275 core partner schools selected at least one teacher to serve as a PRISM Lead Teacher for Science and/or Mathematics.  These teachers provide leadership within and beyond the classroom to influence others toward improved educational practice in the teaching of science and mathematics.  Major roles and responsibilities include serving as a contact between PRISM district and regional staff, coordinating teacher-managed professional learning, providing support to science and/or mathematics teachers at their school to help develop customized professional learning, organizing school-based K-16 science and mathematics professional learning communities, and being an advocate for PRISM activities and strategies.  The PRISM Lead Teachers were given the opportunity to participate in the PRISM Lead Teacher Academy, offered during Years 2 and 3 at the state level, which was designed to provide professional learning for the lead teachers.  Additional training and support was provided through the regions in Years 4 and 5.   The PRISM Lead Teachers are considered leaders dedicated to enhancing the skills and knowledge of others in the fields of science and mathematics.

With additional funding from NSF's MSP Program, PRISM is in the process of implementing the PRISM Teacher Leader Program.  Applicants have just been chosen and will begin coursework in January 2009 to earn a Teacher Leader Endorsement for the certification.