Our school board is currently in a process of revamping the models of teacher leadership in secondary schools. They’ve changed the concept slightly from one of Department Head to that of Lead Teacher. The Lead Teacher will have specific responsibilities for various curricular areas. If it’s a large school, with a large department, then one Lead will have only that area, but in smaller schools, or for smaller departments, there will be consolidations. The idea seems to be to have the Lead Teachers focus not only on the managerial responsiblities, but also on the large school goals that are framed in the School Improvement Plan. I think that there will be opportunities to provide input and drive the school plans.
The driving force seems to have been a joint group lead by OSSTF and the school board. In recent times, the role of school leader has altered in many places, and this is an effort to revitalize the positions to have leaders in place who are wanting to drive changes at the school level.
I heard it said somewhere (and have often used the line myself) that there are 2 things that teachers hate. Change and the way things are. For those of us striving to move our classroom practice towards more student-centred and skills based approaches this is an interesting opportunity. Will the mandate be to simply implement the changes that are directed from the Ministry of Ed and the school board administration, or will there be opportunities to drive the agenda at the school level towards goals that we find valuable? Time will tell I suppose, but if there is one thing I have learned, it is that if you are interested in making change in education happen, it pays to be at the table where they are discussing what changes should be made.
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Interesting thoughts, Colin. I’m intrigued, because everyone else I’ve heard talking about this switch has been using tones of fear and loathing. I think one concern I’m hearing with creating fewer “heads”, particularly in small schools, is that people fear their voices won’t be heard, if they’re only one of many under a larger banner. As a Core French teacher, currently inquiring my way through our first new curric in umpteen years (and knowing the secondary one is en route), I think I might be concerned about how a lead teacher with multiple responsibilities might best support me in that journey. However, I very much agree with your last sentence, and hope there are more people thinking along your lines.
Yeah, and I’ve heard similar. I think you’d likely agree that sometimes teachers focus solely on ‘covering’ their curriculum and not on what kids are learning. I’m thinking that this is an effort to get more focus on the learning of kids, and not so much on the teaching of curriculum. Not to say that it’s not important, but that very often it became the focus to the exclusion of everything else. I also think that if you’re talking about making change that you HAVE to move out of your comfortable little area and look at what is happening in others. FWIF.
We’ve been set up this way for a long time. In small schools a “subject area head” might be responsible for Business Studies, Math, Computer Studies, Technological Education, and Science. No one can be a “content expert” to support all of those areas, but it is reasonable for someone to support all of those teachers in planning, instructional practice, and especially assessment.
It’s sometimes nice to be working outside of your main subject area. I find it fascinating to hear Science teachers and Business Studies teachers have conversations about instructional strategies; both have a lot to learn from each other, and I have lot to learn from both.
I’ll be the head of math at a large high school next year. Looking forward to being at that table with the other leaders, helping to define our goals and map the journey.
Thanks for your post!