In my previous posts I offered a general overview of the R3 Initiative as well as some historical context for where the ideas within the grant originated and how they were developed. In this post we’ll look more closely at the two elements that are already in place in PCS – and have been in place for a couple of years. These first two elements create a teacher leader pipeline so that teachers are more prepared than ever to take on additional leadership roles. Training in the Key BT and Teacher Leadership Institute gives teachers the competencies and dispositions of leaders, helping them create their leadership identity so that they are ready to take on the complex challenges faced by leaders across the district.
Now in its third year, the Key BT program is a one-year program supporting creative, effective, and innovative Beginning Teachers (BTs) to become collaborative leaders among other BTs. The program functions above and beyond the regular BT Support Plan as a differentiated support for highly effective BTs. Identified Key BTs serve as the keystone to the three year arch of supporting all BTs. These 50 participants are selected at the end of either their first, second, or third year of teaching and the training occurs the following year, when they receive specialized training in how to support other beginning teachers.
The Key BT Program focuses on four main areas of support: Orientation, Training, Resources, and Advocacy. Orientation focuses on allowing Key BTs to make connections and provide support for first year teachers during the New Teacher Orientation program each summer. During the school year, Key BT participants share Resources that made them successful in an online format and help facilitate monthly face-to-face Training focused on providing proactive support for BTs. Advocacy is the capstone experience for the Key BT program when participants travel as a group to meet BTs from another county to plan priorities to share directly with state legislators. The program coordinator facilitates this dialogue, offering teachers an opportunity to interact with legislators who make decisions at the state level which impact them, while offering state legislative leaders the opportunity to hear from and be informed by those who are “on the ground,” so to speak, doing the day-to-day work in classrooms.
The second element of R3, the Teacher Leadership Institute (TLI), is a four-year program designed to build teachers’ leadership identity and capacity in the school and district. Each year a new class of 25 teachers is accepted into the Institute, who begin a two-year intensive professional learning experience focused on understanding the mental dispositions of leaders; building the skills needed to collaborate with their colleagues; and influencing student success by applying best-practices in the classroom. During the second year of the TLI, teachers complete a Capstone Project aligned with one of three strands: Instructional Leadership, Association Leadership, or Policy Leadership. Upon completion of the Capstone Project, TLI participants are eligible to receive a $4,800 supplement awarded incrementally during years three and four. TLI teachers are also provided with financial and mentoring support during years three and four to pursue certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
It’s important to note that these programs were started with funding initially allocated through the Pitt County Educational Foundation, in addition to local appropriates from the district and grants from other foundations such as the Wells-Fargo Foundation, the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation, and another local foundation here in Greenville. Grant funding through the TIF and TCM grants now ensures these programs are able to continue for the next several years.
While these two elements have been going on here in PCS, the next two (the Career Pathways and the Performance-Based Compensation) are new to the district. So in the next post I’ll introduce the Career Pathway Model.