Skip to content

Opinion poll: teacher leader certification

June 19, 2013

IMG_1343In my last blog post, I wrote about the Teacher Leader Certification Academy in Riverside County, California. Their approach to teacher leadership has much in common with the 2012 ACT report on teacher compensation and career pathways. Our report suggested a statewide approach to teacher leader development and certification, similar to the one currently used in New Mexico. Here’s your chance to register an opinion on this topic. (Prior reading about or familiarity with the topic recommended but not required!)

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    June 19, 2013 5:59 pm

    I cannot really answer…a very important part has been left out-concept specifics and teacher leadership training curriculum.

    • David B. Cohen permalink*
      June 19, 2013 11:13 pm

      Susan – you’re right that there’s only so much we can fit into a little poll like this and the details would make or break it. The conversation is good, too. Let’s assume the best – since any good idea could be torpedoed by assuming it’s executed poorly. So assuming the curriculum and other details are favorable from your point of view, do you think the state should be involved, leave it to local development and execution, or is the idea itself flawed in your opinion? I encourage you to read the blog post about Riverside for a concrete example of how it could work at the county level.

  2. June 22, 2013 6:17 am

    I guess I get a little worried about any kind of certification process because, by definition, it has to standardize the process, right? Yes, we can base it on something as successful as NBCT, but won’t it make quantitative the contributions that a person gives to educational leadership? And until there are more differentiated pathways and salaries through the profession and also through professional development, then adding a teacher leader certification might not be exactly what we need.

    I like the idea of different recognized gradations of teachers and teacher quality, but I would fear adding one more hoop that can be hopped by anyone who simply goes through the process. Of course, I could be burned by the standardization of our teacher educational programs in this country, so perhaps my opinion is outdated?

    -Heather Wolpert-Gawron

    • David B. Cohen permalink*
      June 22, 2013 10:21 am

      Thanks for commenting, Heather. I understand your concerns, and whatever we come up with, there will be some “head-scratchers” in the final outcome. There will always be some who slip through who leave you wondering how that happened. Whether it’s a driver’s license, college admission, or someone hired for almost any job, or who receives some certification or recognition… I think about it this way: if we create this new pathway, on balance, will it advance the goals of improving teaching and learning, and improving the profession? I think if it’s designed well, such a program would address the needs of teachers we know well, who are looking for that extra opportunity and still motivated to stay in the classroom. My biggest concern is how “thin” and uninspired the design might be if it’s all run at the state level. In my dream world, I think it would be locally designed and run, but with some way to make the program align to some state standards, and therefore make the certification meaningful around the state, and relevant in state policies and statewide opportunities for teachers.

  3. June 25, 2013 3:04 pm

    This is a really interesting premise. I tend to prefer the idea of empowering people to be leaders, as opposed to certifying them to become leaders. I’m not opposed to the certification, but I think the “needs” for leadership roles differ so greatly from context to context–even within the same district.

    • David B. Cohen permalink*
      July 1, 2013 11:50 pm

      Mark – I know what you mean about variations within districts. We have a lot of that in Palo Alto. I think some of that variability is inevitable, and some is cultivated, and I think it plays out as both a strength and a challenge. So, knowing what we know about variability, are there commonalities around which we could, and should, formalize pathways to leadership roles, and expectations regarding how the jobs are filled, what the expectations are, responsibilities, pay, etc.? As you’ve probably inferred, I’m inclined to say yes, though I would be very cautious about how it’s done so that it avoids some predictable traps:
      – appearance of favoritism, excess subjectivity
      – too easy or too hard to attain
      – hoop-jumping exercise, checklist-o-rama that lacks substance
      – diminished focus on classroom practice and student learning
      – more work without real responsibility, or without appropriate compensation


  1. Deeper Dialogue On Teacher Leader Certification | InterACT

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: