Monday, April 23, 2018

Effingham shares model for empowering teachers

Effingham CUSD 40 principals Kurt Roberts, left, and Christy
Hild join Mattoon Superintendent Larry Lilly in a learning
exercise during the Teacher Leadership Lab in Effingham.
Photo by Keith Stewart, courtesy Effingham Daily News.
Effingham Community Unit School District 40 believes that teacher leadership and input regarding the learning process can significantly foster student achievement. The district’s model was one of three selected to be shared with other schools as part of a national Teacher Leadership Lab. 

The program consists of five pillars: control, empower, collaboration, application, and celebration. A key cornerstone for the district is the level of collaboration that occurs with teachers and students. Teachers periodically meet to discuss learning outcomes and objectives, and cooperative learning projects are designed to teach students problem-solving skills, teamwork, technological skills, and real-world applications. 

Melody Arabo of the U.S. Department of Education believes the district’s model holds promise regarding curriculum and instruction.

More than 180 educators, administrators, and other stakeholders attended the Leadership Lab on April 12 hosted by the Effingham district. Presentations included teachers showcasing various student team projects, for example, designing a moon colony and what supplies will be needed to survive for a year. Students were also in attendance to discuss how the method has impacted their learning.

George Couros
In a keynote presentation, consultant and author George Couros noted the importance of teaching students to be innovative so they can impact the world in meaningful ways. A key theme of his keynote was based on the concept of being willing to fail in order to properly learn.

Patrick Rice, IASB field services director, attended the event and noted the district’s success with this approach to student learning. “It encompasses higher order thinking skills allowing teachers and students to be creative with respect to how they learn and how they facilitate learning.”

Effingham CUSD 40’s program received national recognition last year at the Teacher Leadership Summit, a multistate regional conference of Teach to Lead where more than 300 schools applied to attend, but just 30 were chosen to present their ideas. The district was then one of three finalists selected to present a day-long leadership lab. 

Teach to Lead is a partnership of the U.S. Department of Education and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Their work is based in a belief that teachers are experts in schools and instruction, and as such, should be supported to lead the key changes and innovations that their students, colleagues, and profession deserve to do their best work every day.