Ed. Dept. Launches Site to Promote Teacher-Leadership Ideas
Back in March, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in coordination with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, announced "Teach to Lead," a vague initiative with the stated goal of improving teacher leadership.
The first wave of that initiative now appears to be taking shape. Yesterday, the NBPTS and the U.S. Department of Education unveiled "Commit to Lead," an online community that, according to the press release, "makes it easy for educators to share ideas for teacher leadership and collaborate to bring them to fruition." In addition, users will be able to vote on the quality of ideas, and the most popular ones will be made more prominent.
In other words, the two organizations have discovered Reddit.
OK, the site is actually done through the company ideascale, which offers these ranking services broadly. The interface on Commit to Lead is pretty intuitive; users can search for established ideas and vote on them, or submit a new idea. You can also comment on any idea or find similar ones. (There's already a pretty jam-packed categorization system, so it might be interesting to see how cumbersome that becomes as more ideas come in.)
Anyone can register for Commit to Lead—teachers, administrators, parents, community members, etc.—but the site promises to accept only ideas that constitute "genuine teacher leadership efforts." As the terms of service state, "We will not post political statements or other statements that are not primarily aimed at developing teacher leadership commitments."
Since launching yesterday, the site has published 18 suggestions. Among the initial batch:
- "Writing Workshop for At-Risk Middle Schoolers": To provide weekly instruction in creative and memoir writing that will result in print and digital publication of pieces.
- "Principals and Central Admin Teach Every Two Years": Principals, central office administrators, consultants, and state education departments would be required to teach just one prep or class for a 3-6 month period at least once every two years.
- "Edcamp in a Box": Create a toolkit that would help educators establish ed camps in their school districts. Ed camps are a form of the increasingly popular "unconference" trend.
The current top idea, submitted by teacher (and Teacher contributor) Diedra Gammill, proposes creation of professional- learning communities for career and technical education teachers. Gammill says that CTE teachers tend to get left out of collaboration opportunities.
Many of the ideas have general titles, like "Redefine Professional Development," or "Own the Data," or "Teacher Preparation." I'm not an expert, but maybe future suggestions could trend more toward something like, "Ten Easy Steps to Fix Teacher Prep" or something. Either there is no option to post GIFs, or no one has yet availed themselves of that option; either way, it's tragic.
There's also the issue of overkill, which was raised by Larry Ferlazzo, another Teacher contributor, in his post about the Commit to Lead site. "With all the online teacher communities already available (particularly the Center for Teaching Quality Collaboratory)," he writes, "it's hard for me to believe that we really need another one."
While we wait to find out, the Commit to Lead site still has some clear glitches. You can't submit an idea without being registered, but when I tried to register, it sent my verification email to my junk folder. I verified my email, and the site said it wasn't able to complete the operation, even though it showed my as being logged in. Also, while Gammill's idea is listed at the top of the site's Leaderboard, her actual submission page shows the idea ranked 7th.
On the plus side, I think I've figured out a good Commit to Lead idea.
Top image: Screenshot from the Commit to Lead website.