One of NYCLA’s partners, the Iowa Department of Education (IDE), received acclaim recently from former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for its teacher leadership initiative. During his visit to the state, Duncan called the statewide effort to create a corps of teacher leaders, who coach their colleagues and develop curriculum, “revolutionary.”

Noting the potential of the work to improve student achievement, reduce teacher turnover and cut human resources’ costs for school districts, Duncan said, “This should have happened 50 years ago. I’m thrilled that it’s happening now, but I don’t want it to take another 50 years to become the norm.”

A noteworthy aspect of Iowa’s initiative is its focus on the role that school principals and other administrators need to play in cultivating and facilitating the work of these new teacher leaders within buildings and districts.

NYCLA has worked with IDE to design and roll out its Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) Administrator Support Program, a comprehensive, year-long professional development program focusing on building the capacity of the principal to develop and facilitate distributive leadership in their school. Through a combination of professional learning sessions and leadership coaching, principals are equipped to form a cohesive building leadership team that leverages teacher leaders for school wide improvement of student learning.

 “Iowa education leaders recognized that school principals need to take an active role in supporting and empowering teacher leaders for the TLC initiative to be successful,” said Mary Jo Dunnington, NYCLA’s Senior Vice President of Client Engagement. “We believe this attention to the role of school administrators in supporting teacher leadership will ensure the initiative has staying power and yields positive results in student learning.”

In partnership with IDE, NYCLA has worked with nine local education agencies and organizations like the School Administrators of Iowa to design the TLC Administrator Support Program and to build the capacity of facilitators and coaches across the state to support program implementation. Notes Dunnington, “Facilitators and coaches are tailoring the learning to the needs of the cohorts of principals they are supporting, but, the foundational program is mapped to a standards framework and aligned with the state’s overall goals.”

Nearly 100 school leaders across the state are currently participating in the first year of the program, which began with a three-day Summer Institute. NYCLA designed the summer curriculum to achieve IDE’s specific goals for principals to communicate vision, develop personal action plans and mobilize school leadership teams.

NYCLA is continuing to support IDE and its partners in the implementation of additional workshops and school leadership coaching, which is rooted in NYCLA’s facilitative, competency-based coaching model aimed at transforming and deepening principal’s leadership behaviors.