Lead teachers appreciate the importance of technology as an instructional tool. “When technological tools used in the real world are put in the hands of students, those students can better see themselves as problem solvers and can better and more fully communicate their capacity to solve problems to the larger world community” (November, 2001, p. 47). Through the use of computer technology, lead teachers can use online instruction to supplement classroom activities as well as invite students to use classroom chat rooms and forums to give students the ability to collaborate with each other. These social networks bring students together for the purpose of sharing information and valuing varied opinions. Lead teachers are aware of the many forms of technology and how to use all media to impact student learning. Curriculum design and delivery must involve student learning focused on how to use technology as well as the student’s ability to convey mastery of materials and skills using technology as a delivery mechanism.
Lead teachers should also know how to use technology as a management tool in their classrooms. Managing student data through technology provides the teacher immediate information about student achievement. It becomes an invaluable tool not only related to student grades but also to management of materials and supplies used in the classroom.
Lead teachers believe that classroom social interactions, which are important to curriculum development, are provided through shared experience, flexible groupings, interactions with the teacher, and opportunities for children to reflect on their learning (Barbour, Barbour, & Scully, 2008). Teachers design curricula and deliver learning experiences that give opportunities for both individual learning responsibilities and small group learning responsibilities for their students. These learning experiences are designed considering the school community, the student, the family, and community influences so that the quality of learning is enhanced. Lead teachers understand that by creating a comfort zone within the classroom they are creating a platform for learning and reflecting. Sharing in the groups affords students the chance to reflect on the learning of the group and the individual through interactions. Collaborations between students and the teacher allows the teacher to model the concept or skill that the curriculum is designed to deliver while also allowing the students to practice in that same collaborative atmosphere.
Teacher-to-teacher collaboration is essential for beginning teachers as well as seasoned veterans. It allows veteran teachers to share experience with new teachers and also beginning teachers to share new ideas with veteran teachers. Collaboration between teachers for improving instruction benefits students. Delivery styles can be analyzed and improved upon using varying viewpoints. Cooperation can take many forms including face-to-face meetings, chat rooms, and forums for debating issues and sharing technique. Whatever form used, lead teachers see the value of alliances and participate in the process of creating those alliances.
According to Harrison and Killion (2007), lead teachers can be catalysts for change, visionaries who are “never content with the status quo but rather always looking for a better way” (Larner, 2004, p. 32). Teachers who take on the catalyst role feel secure in their own work and have a strong commitment to continual improvement. Dozier (2007) stated that because teachers know firsthand what is needed to improve student learning, promoting and supporting teacher leadership are crucial to the success of any education reform effort. But lead teachers need specific knowledge, skills, and dispositions to be successful change agents.
How do lead teachers bring about change? Lead teachers know that change is a process not an event, requiring time, energy, and resources to support it (Marsh & Wells, 2003). Lead teachers become involved. They move from the isolation of the classroom into leadership roles to help bring about improved curriculum design and delivery (Dozier, 2007). They join with other lead teachers and other stakeholders to first become informed, second develop data to support change, and third use those data to bring about the change. This occurs while they also consider timing and the stakeholders who will support change and those for whom change will be difficult.
The term “best-practice” refers to solid, reputable, state-of-the-art research-based practices used in the classroom for the benefit of student learning (Zemelman, Daniels, & Hyde, 2005). The lead teacher understands and uses research-based best practices to construct a curriculum that facilitates instruction and delivers that curriculum to effectively present the “big idea” to students. Students are not kept in the dark about what they are going to learn or why it is important. Formative assessments are used to evaluate student knowledge related to the “big idea” as well as levels of need in background information. Formative assessment should include formal and informal methods that allow the students as well as the teacher see what levels of understanding exist. These methods are most effective if they are scored in a descriptive or narrative way, not scored numerically.
Some effective methods have been identified as ungraded quizzes, oral questioning, teacher observations, draft work, think-alouds, student-constructed concept maps, learning logs, and portfolio reviews (McTighe & O’Connor, 2005). These assessments provide insight into the thinking and learning of students and should be completed for the purpose of driving further instruction. Students should also be involved in some type of self-assessments and goal setting. These efforts involve students in their own learning and help students take ownership. Lead teachers assess frequently to make sure students are moving in the direction of the “big idea.” If these assessments indicate that students are not grasping the idea, teachers can immediately make corrections to redirect student learning.
Barbour, C., Barbour, N. H., & Scully, P. A. (2008). Families, schools, and communities:
Building partnerships for educating children. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill
Benson, B. P. (2003). How to meet standards, motivate students, and still enjoy teaching!
Four practices that improve student learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc.
Bernhardt, V. L. (2003). No schools left behind. Educational Leadership, 60 (5), 26-30.
Dozier, T. K. (2007). Turning good teachers into great leaders. Educational Leadership, 65 (1), 54-59.
Harrison, C., & Killion, J. (2007). Ten roles for teacher leaders. Educational Leadership,
65 (1), 74-77.
Marsh, C. J., & Willis, G. (2003). Curriculum: Alternative approaches, ongoing issues. Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.
Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D. J., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works.
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
McTighe, J., & O’Connor, K. (2005). Seven practices for effective learning. Educational
Leadership, 63(3), 10-17.
McTighe, J., & Thomas, R. S. (2003). Backward design for forward action. Educational
Leadership, 60(5), 52-55.
November, A. (2001). Empowering students with technology. Glenview, IL: Pearson Skylight.
Oliva, P. F. (2005). Developing the curriculum. Boston: Pearson Allyn Bacon.
Price, H. B., (2008). Mobilizing the community to help students succeed. Alexandria, VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms.
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson
Merrill Prentice Hall.
Zemelman, S., Daniels, H., & Hyde, A. (2005). Best practice: Today’s standards for teaching
& learning in America’s schools. Portsmith, NH: Heinemann.