Opportunity Culture® Voices: My Unexpected Journey to Teacher Leadership

by | September 20, 2016


“Come join the exciting new initiative at Meachem Elementary. We are pursuing proven strategies to increase student achievement by increasing adult leadership and the capacity to more effectively reach all students; this will assist in raising our test scores, and provide teachers with more support by their peers, smaller reading-group sizes, classroom management support, and interventions using technology that engage students in their academic journey. Join the Opportunity Culture® team and take part in this enriched opportunity! Help lead your school to success!”

Who could say no to this? I wanted in, and signed up without realizing the impact on my future.

Every school using Opportunity Culture® models creates a design team to determine how to redesign its teacher roles. Fewer teachers took part in an initial meeting than I expected—they thought it was another “thing” that would come and go. But walking into it was like walking into my destiny. Everyone looked eager. We were thinking so hard you could almost see thought bubbles above our heads.

–Syracuse, N.Y.  2nd- and 3rd-grade Multi-Classroom Leader Kristen Duffy in My Unexpected Journey to Teacher Leadership

As Kristen Duffy’s design team worked on its objectives for the first 90 days of school, the team decided the school would need to use Multi-Classroom Leadership:

To meet our first goal—and its target of a 50 percent increase in student reading scores by day 90—we needed multi-classroom leaders (MCLs), typically described as excellent teachers who continue to teach while leading a team of teachers, modeling, co-teaching, coaching and co-planning with them.

We giggled at first, thinking, “Aren’t we all excellent teachers?” But in reality, that caused many of us to step back from even thinking of being an MCL. I couldn’t imagine labeling myself, one of Meachem’s youngest teachers, that way.

Read more about Duffy’s journey to that job after all, in the first installment of the 2016-17 series of columns by teachers and teacher-leaders in Opportunity Culture® schools in North Carolina, New York, and Texas–and thanks to Real Clear Education for its continued publication of the series.

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