Imagine a spider spinning a web.  It begins with individual fibers, then works to strengthen them, carefully finishing with their connection. 

Across the state of Tennessee there are many strands of teacher leadership being spun.  Amazing initiatives and programs have been put in place to reinforce them.  What does it look like when these pieces are woven together to create a strong, powerful design?

The Tennessee Teacher Leadership Collaborative (TTLC) was established to collectively build an overarching network structure for teacher leadership and collaboration. The TTLC goals are:

• Ensure teacher leadership efforts are coordinated, working toward a common vision and have impact.

• Expand the role of teacher leadership in attracting, attaining, and supporting highly effective educators.

• Amplify educator voice, and support empowered educators.

• Identify and expand access to teacher leadership opportunities in Tennessee.

• Prioritize teacher leadership as a long-term strategy statewide that is supported by a network of partners.

The TTLC also was instrumental in putting on the Tennessee Teacher Leader Summit on July 12 in Nashville.  Governor Bill 

Haslam and Commissioner Candice McQueen attended the summit and celebrated the work of teachers across the state in a panel discussion led by SCORE Executive Chairman and CEO Jamie Woodson.

The summit provided an incredible day of collaboration for educators from across the state!  Participants viewed a presentation by various teacher leaders who have led successful initiatives in their communities by advocating, coaching, influencing, and connecting. Teachers then worked in break-out sessions to build a plan that could be implemented in their school or district.

My personal story surrounding teacher leadership began when I was asked to serve on the Teacher Leader Network.  Our county’s team consisted of a district representative, a school administrator, an instructional coach, and me, a classroom teacher.  As we all drove to the first meeting, I remember having the conversation about how I had the goal to seek leadership opportunities but felt very limited without an administrative degree.  I wondered what options were there for professional advancement and educational leadership for me.

Ironically, about that same time, I was invited to participate in a focus group of teachers for the Hope Street Group.  This idea of teachers meeting collectively and giving feedback on policy issues was intriguing.  So, when the chance soon arose, I applied to the teacher fellowship. 

The Teacher Leader Network and the Hope Street Group have both made an enormous impact on my personal and professional growth.  I have met the most amazing group of people, and have learned something from each of them. Now that TTLC has launched a website for aspiring teacher-leaders, I hope to continue to build capacity in myself and others by sharing this wonderful resource.

Much like a spider web, each teacher is unique, and their experience is intricate. 

As educators, our connections extend our learning, and our leadership networks provide support.   

Teacher leadership – wonder at its complexity, and get caught in the web!