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If you are a member of AERA -- this is for you!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012  
Posted by: Stefani Wilcox
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Become an inaugural member of the AERA Teacher Leadership SIG

A new Special Interest Group (SIG) is forming within AERA that will bring scholars from multiple perspectives together to identify how their thinking about teacher leadership overlaps and diverges, and to devise common understandings that lead to a more systematic assessment and refinement of the theory and practice of teacher leadership. The SIG will make it easier to find sessions that pertain to teacher leadership at the annual conferences as well as facilitate collaboration across this field of study.

A commitment is needed from 75 AERA members to get started.

Please indicate your interest by completing the short survey linked here. By submitting your name and contact information to AERA you are signing an online petition that indicates your support, as well as your commitment to joining the SIG and paying membership dues for a three-year period.

Joining takes only a moment.

Please also share this invitation with your colleagues. We are hoping to collect the needed 75 signatures by January 1, 2013. We will send an update at that time, and again before this year's AERA annual meeting (April 27-May 1, 2013).

Best wishes,

Cynthia Carver, Oakland University (
Melinda Mangin, Rutgers University (
Jill Harrison Berg, Boston Teacher Leadership Resource Center @ BPE (

AERA SIG PROPOSAL: Teacher Leadership

In recent decades, teachers have begun to play an increasingly important leadership role in their schools. Stakeholders have recognized that schools are not led by charismatic individuals alone (Crawford, 2002; Louis et al, 2010; Knapp et al, 2010) and that distributed leadership constitutes a potential and "relatively unlimited resource” of leadership capacity (Leithwood et al, 2006, p.13). Whether in formal positions designed to meet organizational needs or through teachers’ own initiatives to address classroom-based problems of practice, teacher leaders are recognized as potential assets for instructional improvement (Killion & Harrison, 2006; Katzenmeyer & Moller, 2001; Stoelinga & Mangin, 2010). Thus, we see teachers being encouraged to assume roles as mentors, data team leaders, coaches, and members of school leadership teams, playing greater and more explicit roles in leadership web within their schools.

In order to encourage this promising trend, states and districts have begun creating teacher leader endorsements, certifications and assessments (e.g. Hohenbrink et al, 2011), while universities, professional associations, and school partners have invested in the development of professional training programs and networks of teacher leaders (Rebora, 2012). Yet, there is a surprising lack of a knowledge base to guide their work (York-Barr and Duke, 2004). In their 2004 review of the literature, York-Barr and Duke noted that teacher leadership has been under-researched and that the field, constituted primarily by small-scale studies, has been focused predominantly on teacher leaders’ qualifications, duties, and the conditions affecting implementation. More recently, research has taken aim at correlating teacher leader roles to teaching and learning outcomes (see Biancarosa, Bryk & Dexter, 2010; Elish-Piper, 2011; Marsh et. al. 2008; Neuman & Cunningham, 2009), however the lack of common theoretical grounding and the variety of interpretations about what constitutes teacher leadership make it challenging to draw conclusions across existing studies. The establishment of teacher leadership as a field of study is stymied further by the fact that it is hard to know where its scholarship might be found. It has been examined variously as a stage of teachers’ career development, as an aspect of school administration, as a movement to professionalize teaching, as an element of human resource development, and a resource for professional learning and school reform.

In sum, the growth of the evidence base on teacher leadership is far outpaced by the interest in teacher leadership policy and practice. A special interest group within AERA will enable scholars approaching teacher leadership from all perspectives to come together, identify how their thinking overlaps and diverges, and devise common understandings that can lead to a more systematic assessment and refinement of the theory and practice of teacher leadership.

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