Theme of the month

Theme of the Month

Join us each month as we focus on a topic of interest to STEM Teacher Leaders with a webinar panel, open
discussion, resources and blog post. 

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Theme of the Month Discussion: How Teachers Measure Their Impact as Leaders

In this facilitated discussion starting February 4th, we will discuss strategies for assessing your impact as STEM teacher leaders.


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Given the range of activities that teacher leadership encompasses, one can get easily overwhelmed thinking about how her/their/his personal journey of leadership fits in with the larger network of teacher leaders. I've found a few resources to be helpful in providing a sense of orientation for my work:

NNSTOY's Teacher Leadership Model Standards (and self-assessment tools)

NEAs teacher leadership competencies

AAPTs Framework for Physics Teacher Leadership (starts on p16)

These resources help give a sense of both what teacher leaders do and how teacher leaders can further develop their skill sets and impact.  

Tue, 02/04/2020 - 3:21 PM Permalink
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I am certain that your presence in this forum and/or attendance at the webinar indicates that you are already a teacher leader, regardless of whether you identify with that concept. News flash: You ARE a teacher leader!

So, how do you grow your leadership impact from where you are toward where you would like to be? Well, measuring then communicating the impact of your team's work is a good start. Please notice that I said 'your team's work' and not 'your work.' 

We would love for you to share the following with us so that we can find and develop your story of impact together.

Think about a time when you connected with colleagues (in your building or beyond) to address a need. What was the need? What did your team do about that need? What did you try? How did it go? What worked? What didn't? And how do you know? 

Then if you shared the work with colleagues - What did they do? How did their practice change? What impact did it have on their students? And, how do you know?

In short, That is your story of impact. 

We look forward to reading about everyone's stories of impact here.

Tue, 02/04/2020 - 3:49 PM Permalink
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In reply to by Lori Nazareno

When I was a new teacher, I had two partner teachers who took me under their wing and helped me through the year.  At the end of the year, I asked how I could ever thank them for all their help.  They both told me that one day, I needed to to do same thing for another teacher.  I have taken that to heart and tried very hard to be a support to other teachers throughout my career.  This has ranged from creating and leading grade level groups, being a host teacher for student teachers, to being a mentor for new teachers.  But when I look at STEM specficially, it was my desire to learn more that led me to leadership.  There was a Summer science Academy where they were training teachers for the content knowlede we would need to teach our new science kits.  I thought I was just going to learn more and ended up that we were being trained to be trainers. I really enjoyed it and my passion for science and helping others increased. Since then, I have created and conducted mulitple trainings to help teachers be more effective in teaching science.

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 10:06 PM Permalink

I would agree with what you said.  I too, wanted to learn more so I went to workshops, summer institutes, etc.  I learned so much more than what just happened specifically at the event. Those informal conversations and personal observations of teacher leaders.  Hearing their journeys...many connections with like minded educators. All very inspiring.  I too would agree with the desire to pay it forward.

Sun, 02/16/2020 - 9:00 AM Permalink

Thanks for sharing your story Jennifer. Many educators can point back to mentor (official and unofficial) who helped them not only survive, but also thrive. I commend your commitment to paying it forward with your colleagues. I am wondering if you can go a step further to talk of the impact your leadership has had on others. Were there changes in practice that took place? If so, how do you KNOW those changes took place? And most importantly, what difference has it made for students? Remember that qualitative data is as valid as quantitative, so feel free to leverage that data in the telling of your story.

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 3:38 PM Permalink
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I thought this past eve's discussion was riveting. I am hopeful about the future of teacher leadership -- in large measure  because of the growing pressure on schools to rethink its long-standing organizational structures in order to address structural inequalities in our current system of teaching and learning as well as demands of the global economy and new (many STEM-related) careers for which young people need to prepare. Top down, hierarchal school orgs cannot do what they need to do. We know more about cultivating teacher leadership than ever before and new tools and tech and de-isolate those who teach....As Jeff mentioned as you "meet more people" teachers can validate and document their impact.....

here is a piece from last year's Kappan Teacher leadership: Prospects and promises that surfaces a few more facts, figures, and more...


Tue, 02/04/2020 - 9:53 PM Permalink
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I am wondering how the role of teachers as leaders are beginning to shift in schools like the Dearborn STEM 6-12 Early College Academy today. Are how they need to shift to take full advantage of the opportunities with a school that has  flexible indoor and outdoor learning classrooms, two fabrication labs, and laser die cutters as toolsas well as a dance studio....

By one account advanced manufacturing will account for all new jobs by 2030...schools need to look different especially in the field of STEM and the people in them need to be organized differently, Teaching has become too compli­cated for one teacher to do it all.[i]The work of schooling demands a larger array of experts, specialists, and generalists — from schools, industry, and communities — working as a team from different disciplines as well as agencies and organizations.  Teacher leadership in STEM is essential - and the system of teaching needs to look and feel differently in order to build more demand for teachers who lead withour leaving the classroom. I am thinking perhaps we document how teachers already are leading and how a different organizational structure can accelerate more effective leadership from the classroom. 



[i]Santoro, D. (2018). Demoralized: Why Teachers Leave the Profession They Love and How They Can Stay. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press. 


Sun, 02/09/2020 - 10:41 AM Permalink


   I was struck by your reference to some projection that by 2030 "avanced manufacturing will account for all new jobs."    I am curious whose projection that is?  When I read this, I went to the Bureau of Labor Stats to see their projections for jobs and educational requirements between now and 2028 (  Either there's a nuance in your source, or the years 2028-2030 are going to be VERY exciting :)


Mon, 02/10/2020 - 11:04 AM Permalink
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In reply to by Brian Drayton

I have drawn on reports from Deloitte and McKinsey for some of their projections regarding the future work. Most analysts suggest that technological shifts will create more jobs than they take away. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is poised to transform work at an unprecedented pace — AI,  advanced robotics and cognitive automation, advanced analytics, and more will create many new jobs - many that do not yet exist. And when I think about the pressure teachers are under to teach to 20tjh century assessments I wonder how we are going to prepare young people today for the jobs they will have tomorrow. 

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 10:06 PM Permalink

I think the biggest detriment to STEM education in my district is the mandatory language arts and math block scheduling. After all our specials, lunch and recess we have "30 minutes" a day for Science, Social studies, SEL and technolgy.  And it really isn't 30 minutes, because it might be two 15 min. sections sometimes between lunch and and somewhere else.  No one can do effective STEM teaching that way.  I fight back as much as we can, and don't follow all the rules but I don't know how we can swing the tide back to understanding how vitally important stem education is.  I would love to hear what other teachers do to rally support.  Or what they do to ensure students are getting a quality STEM education desipte the blocks.



Thu, 02/13/2020 - 10:27 PM Permalink
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In reply to by Jennifer kueter

Jennifer. there is no question that STEM innovations are undermined by both traditional school schedule as well as the rigid adherence to what is tested for accountability. I think this is where advocacy and policy need to come into play. Policy and business leaders need to take your concerns seriously if schools are going to ensure that all kids get the quality STEM education they need and deserve. 

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 9:51 PM Permalink

Your comments resonated with me on so many levels! From my own experience in industry as an engineer who struggled in locations across the US to find local talent to remain competitive to my experience at a Teacher Powered school (and early college) that worked hard to totally change the paradigm of how to prepare our students from rural Appalachia for the realities of the 4th Industrial Revolution. And while there were many things we could point to that led to our success (both in traditional metrics, as well as consistent feedback from alumni that they were indeed confident and well prepared to meet their future academic and career goals), including being a wall-to-wall PBL school in a competency framework, the biggest difference, was developing strong, trusting relationships with our students so we could then find ways to build connections between the things they cared about and the academic content we were expected to teach. What that often meant was that we, as teachers, were no longer just providers of abstract knowledge, but facilitators of learning that extended routinely into the community (e.g. every student team was expected to have an outside mentor from the community for every project). This forced us to work as a dynamic team to model the success skills we wanted our students to master - problem solving, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, accessing & analyzing information, agility & adaptability, etc. - and then find ways to make curricular connections to the work the students were doing as opposed to relying on stale "back of the book" answers that a more traditional and admittedly easier approached would employ. 

What does any of this have to do with teacher leadership? Everything! We had to be leaders to challenge the status quo and say there has to be a better way to reach our students and prepare them for a rapidly changing world (in our case as a high school that targeted first generation college goers, minorities, students from low SES background, and students who simply struggled to be successful in a more traditional environment). We had to be leaders to indeed take advantage of the opportunities we had before us and build the kind of community connections that demanded more than just funding to support a spaghetti dinner, but to find experts (virtual and face-to-face) willing to work side-by-side with students, as well as for us to be vulnerable and admit that we might not be the traditional source of all knowledge. And then we had to be leaders to step up and tell this story, including the failures and setbacks that certainly came with the journey. All of this (and more) embodied the essence of what a true leader does - they build a community of practice that finds a way to meet the large and often messy goals that have been tasked with - in our case, restoring the joy and wonder of learning to students so that they can in turn be the leaders we need in the future.  

Tue, 02/25/2020 - 7:19 AM Permalink
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On the webinar we discussed the concept of teachers owning, authoring and sharing their stories..... What are some ways you share what's happening inside your classroom with the rest of the world?

In the link I shared a simple way you can do that through hall pictures.... let me know your ideas

Mon, 02/10/2020 - 1:18 PM Permalink
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I was asked what other inspirations I may have had as a youth.  My parents - PTO President, Jaycees leaders, surgical head nurse.  Me - Girl Scouts and 4H officer as well as team captain in BB. I would like to ask others what leadership inspirations in their youth may have impacted their journeys.

Sun, 02/16/2020 - 9:09 AM Permalink

....maybe Job 1...Many teachers lead in a variety of ways. But they do not see themselves as leaders and therefore do not make the case for the leadership - which then leads to the under utilization of their leader capacity....I do think there are a number of simple things we can do....I believe this was the basis of Katzenmeyer and Moller;s book - Awakening the Sleeping Giant. They pointed out that the keys were building principal–teacher leader relationships, working with peers, and  facilitating professional learning for themselves and others as well as deciding to accept a leadership role, I agree with the first three; however for me the latter one is less relevant to day. There is a lot of power in informal leadership roles and teachers deciding to go public with the evidence of their impact and influence. 

Conditions in schools matter a lot. So does time as well as opportunities to get outside the 4 walls of their individual classrooms....

more later!



Sun, 02/23/2020 - 8:32 AM Permalink

I couldn't agree more, Barnett, with your comments regarding how an archaic, top-down driven model is essentially obsolete in today's context of preparing students for a global, innovation economy. It's a model better suited for the 1st Industrial Revolution, not the 4th. Rather than assuming the folks at the top of an organization are the only ones that have the requisite knowledge to meet the demands of the future of work and the future of learning, we should be building communities of practice in our schools. I'm absolutely convinced that the talent and skills needed to grow a culture of authentic innovation already exist every school, but unfortunately they are being encumbered by the institutionalized inertia of the status quo. There is a better way. Embracing a crowdsourced teacher leadership approach is one such way to bring the positive disruption we need in our schools.

Image from the "Open Organization" by Jim Whitehurst


Tue, 02/25/2020 - 8:32 AM Permalink
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Julie's question reminds me of the idea that school innovation needs to focus on who students know and not just what they know (or don't)....mentoring is key to later life success and especially in STEM

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 9:53 PM Permalink
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I've been following the discussion and browsing all the related resources so far. If we truly want to create change in STEM education, along with improved student performance and interest will have to play an important role in building a solid foundation. It starts with attracting top-notch teachers, having resources readily accessible, and thinking about how we bring about impactful change to our institutions. 

Sun, 02/23/2020 - 3:56 PM Permalink
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David. There are only so many " top-notch teachers" that we can attract and retain unless we flip the reform model. There are really good teachers who want to teach but cannot remain in their jobs because the work is not sustainable. I think the flipped model begins with STEM and with 2+2+2 programs that combine people power of school district, local NGOs (like after school providers), virtual mentors, technical colleges, and universities....


.....we have had calls to recruit 100,000 new STEM teachers for 100,000 years (well a bit of an exaggeration)





Tue, 03/03/2020 - 12:30 AM Permalink
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