Climbing the jungle gym of success: Nontraditional career paths in professional learning

This post is the first in a series on nontraditional career paths for those working in educator professional learning. We asked Nikki Mouton to share her professional journey from a science teacher in Georgia to Senior District Fellow with Learning Forward. Future posts will explore how other educators are leveraging their knowledge and skills in professional learning to find success in alternative career paths.

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Bridging Silos

Growing up in rural America, we passed silos on our way to school filled with silage, a combination of whole maize plants, beets, grass, and alfalfa. While the ingredients varied from silo to silo, these products made a healthy and sustainable feed for livestock when nutrition was scarce. Indeed, they were the lifeblood of farms…

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Bilingual teacher workforce starts with English learner students

As university bilingual educators raised in Spanish-speaking homes, we have been asked by colleagues: How did you become so successful? That question represents an all-too-common deficit perspective on students who are learning two or more languages (Lucas, Villegas, & Martin, 2015). On the contrary, our stories illustrate how bilingual and bicultural experiences are assets for…

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Explore The Many Paths To Leadership

Do you consider yourself a leader? People answer this question in different ways at different times, and their job title may have little bearing on how they answer it. Rather, they may consider several factors. How do they influence or assist others, formally or informally? Who comes to them with questions and requests for support?…

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Experience Makes A Great Teacher

Principal Josette Claudio of P.S. 109 in the Bronx faced a problem. More than a third of her teachers had quit over one summer, possibly, according to surveys, because they were dissatisfied with the discipline in the school. Claudio had programs in place to encourage good behavior so teachers could concentrate on classroom instruction, but…

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How learning shaped my leadership

Knowing this will be my last opportunity to write this column as Learning Forward’s executive director, I want to share a few insights on habits I’ve found valuable as a leader. Not surprisingly, they are built on a foundation of continuous learning. ESTABLISH YOUR EXPERTISE As educators, we are often expected to know a lot…

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Turn Effective Practice Into Common Practice

Across the United States, there are schools whose students are significantly outperforming and out-improving those from nearby schools. In almost any geographic location in America, within a 30-minute drive there exist schools where classrooms are alive with stimulating learning, day in and day out. These are places where students — and adults — are thriving,…

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What it takes to build a strong principal pipeline

Q: What was the impetus for focusing on the principal pipeline? Nicholas Pelzer: Around 2000, when The Wallace Foundation started focusing on leadership, it wasn’t really on the national agenda. It was considered a tertiary issue.Through the first 10 years of our work on the topic, we were asking questions like, “Does leadership matter, and…

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Navigation Aids

No longer is the central office a place for educators’ careers to meet a dead end. Nor can it be where ineffective leaders are transferred to lessen impact. It cannot be “the blob,” as coined by William Bennett (Walker, 1987). The Wallace Foundation notes that the central office has never been more important for system…

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Why Teachers Make Good Learning Leaders

Somebody asked me recently what pushes me as a professional,” says Becky Jensen, an elementary school teacher in San Jose, California. “It started when a new principal came in several years ago and let me try new strategies. But he also set up a structure to help me think through what worked and what didn’t,…

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