Empowering teacher leaders to increase student achievement

Last month the Iowa Department of Education named Marshalltown Community School District one of 39 in the state to be part of the Teacher Leadership and Compensation System for 2014-2015. More than 140 districts in Iowa applied to be part the first year of funding and we’re excited to be among the first chosen. One major reason Marshalltown Schools were chosen was because of the strong history of mentoring, professional learning and empowering teacher leaders already established within the District. Taking part in the TLC System will allow us to expand on current practices, retain effective teachers by providing enhanced career opportunities, promote collaboration and professional growth and improve student achievement by strengthening instruction.

The TLC system in Marshalltown Schools will include three levels of teacher leadership: model classroom teachers, instructional coaches and curriculum/professional development leaders. Model classrooms serve as demonstration sites for other teachers. The teachers in those classrooms will showcase the best practices and implementation of district initiatives. It’s important to keep highly effective teachers where they do their best work with students! This is why model classroom teachers make up the largest portion of the TLC system.

Instructional Coaches work to support, implement and coordinate district initiatives and school improvement. Instructional coaches help develop the model classrooms, work with building principles and coach teachers to become mentors for their peers. Marshalltown Schools already have highly skilled Instructional Coaches at the K-6 level. With the TLC grant we can expand that model K-12 with six elementary coaches, two at Lenihan Intermediate, two at Miller Middle School and two at Marshalltown High School.

Curriculum/Professional Development Leaders will work strategically with teachers and teams in planning, monitoring, reviewing and implementing district initiatives while coaching teachers on best practices and organizing, developing and coordinating professional development. They will assist and coordinate the planning, development and evaluation of curriculum effectiveness and lead curriculum adoption processes. Through the TLC grant Marshalltown Schools plans to fund two of these positions: one at the elementary level and one at the secondary level.

While this system implementation is initially based on grant funding, the State of Iowa plans to eventually make TLC support part of the regular school funding formula, meaning all districts in Iowa will receive funding to utilize teacher leaders. In Marshalltown we’re excited to be among the first districts receiving funding for this valuable work. With teacher leader roles already in place; talented, eager teacher leaders on our staff; and the plans focused on increasing student achievement we look forward to expanding our teacher leadership in Marshalltown Schools and being on the forefront of empowering education leaders in Iowa.

Jason Staker is communications director for the Marshalltown Community School District