Develop Team Leaders
to lead colleagues in learning for continuous improvement
Give your teacher leaders and instructional coaches the training and support they deserve.
Three weeks into my first year as a teacher, I am standing in the hallway at dismissal when the director of instruction gently approaches me and says, "Elisa, the principal wondered if you could lead your team's meeting?"
"Today?" I ask, slightly panicked that the meeting starts in fifteen minutes, and I have never led a team of adults before, let alone five colleagues with more experience than me.
He musters up his best smile and says, "For the year." He adds, "Just put a couple of things down on paper as the agenda and try to get people to stick to it. You'll be fine."
My entrypoint into team leadership is what I call an instant coffee approach: Start with a group: Just add leader. And as you might imagine, this approach yielded as much richness as, well, instant coffee. I am so grateful to the first team of teachers that I led, but I would hardly call what I did leading my colleagues in learning for student achievement."
~Elisa MacDonald. Excerpt from The Skillful Team Leader p.3
Teacher leaders, instructional coaches, and administrators, charged with leading teams and implementing initiatives, are doing more than facilitating meetings; they are leading their colleagues in learning for continuous improvement.
While teachers are skilled practitioners in the classroom,
they want and need support when leading their colleagues.
I believe in creating a robust system of supports where teacher leaders, in particular, learn alongside the district and school leaders who support them. Let's work together to design and implement, or build upon your existing teacher leadership training and development program so that your team leaders have the support they need.
Are your teacher, coach and administrative team leaders ready to learn?
Teacher leaders, instructional coaches and administrators who lead teams learn how to:
lead collaborative inquiry, change initiatives and staff development
design engaging, purposeful adult learning experiences
set meaningful student-learning goals and action plans
lead data analysis with colleagues, including looking at student work
interrupt bias, assumptions and unsound reasoning
cultivate diverse perspectives and flexible thinking
manage conflict and navigate resistance
lead peer observations
facilitate text-based discussions and protocols effectively
reflect and set leadership growth goals
nurture a culture of community, shared responsibility, and vulnerability-based trust
District/school leaders who SUPPORT teacher, coach, administrative team leaders learn to:
design clear priorities for peer leaders to direct their work
notice specific indicators of team leader and teacher team impact
give specific feedback to team leaders for their development
co-create leadership growth goals and an action plan to reach them
This experience was so rewarding on so many levels. It was the first time that department meetings had value and I looked forward to each meeting. Your coaching was superb and sorely missed when it was over... Every school system should have an Elisa MacDonald.
- Mary B., Science teacher leader
Your training has transformed how I think about problem solving in schools, whether it's math, team meetings or social and emotional learning. I am less intimidated when dealing with challenging issues and have a whole new perspective about how to operate in schools.
- Georgia N., Math Teacher Leader
As a new district leader, I have benefited greatly from Elisa's support. With her guidance, I am now better equipped to mentor the teacher leaders in my department. I consistently use her framework for planning meeting agendas. She also worked with me to develop strategic goals and priorities for my department that are high-leverage and actionable. She has supported me in thinking through challenging leadership decisions around staff changes and implementing a practice of analyzing data and student work in my district citywide meetings... I have enjoyed working with Elisa immensely!
- Joelle P., District Coordinator Middle School ELA/Literacy
Elisa helped to validate and support the direction I wanted to take my (team of) teachers in as we embarked on remote learning. She helped me to make leadership decisions that positively impacted teacher learning and practice.
-Crystal S., Content Instructional Leader
I think I learned the most by just observing you lead us. You are so clearly masterful at this craft! While I was asked to fill this (teacher leadership) role, as opposed to volunteering for it, I think you've provided the supports I need to be successful. Thanks!
- Jesse C., Science Teacher Leader
I really enjoyed the course - it is somewhat out of my comfort zone and Elisa made it feel really safe.
-Michelle F, Middle school teacher leader
Elisa tracked our work on a shared Google Doc. Throughout the week, I refer back to the document. I occasionally add questions and Elisa always responds with meaningful ideas. For example, I created a presentation for TCT on the purpose of anchor texts and how to identify best texts. Elisa provided valuable feedback on the presentation along with how teachers can utilize anchor texts in ways I had not yet imagined. After the PD, Elisa brainstormed next steps with me on how we can revisit the work in the Fall. Elisa's support has greatly improved my work. She is an incredible resource.
-Nancy H., Content Instructional Leader