Teachers Are #ReadyForSuccess

by Paul Toner, President of the VIVA Project

If we want to cultivate teacher leaders in the United States, we have to compensate them fairly for going the extra mile and evaluate them like the professionals they are. That’s what Iowa teachers told Governor Terry Branstad three years ago in the ISEA VIVA Idea Exchange™, Re-Imagining School Leadership for the 21st Century. A few months later, the state adopted a groundbreaking teacher compensation system based on our educators’ recommendations.

Today, thanks to the impact our teachers made in Iowa, I’m joining US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on a panel at Roosevelt Middle School in Cedar Rapids to talk about teacher leadership as part of his annual Back-to-School Bus Tour.

Obviously, this is a great opportunity to showcase our teachers in Iowa. But it’s also a chance to continue elevating the teaching profession–and encouraging a new and different brand of teacher leadership—across the country.

The VIVA Project knows teacher voice matters when it comes to creating education policy, but their wisdom and expertise goes beyond the classroom. If you want to know what a teacher leader looks like, or how to identify good teachers and replicate their successes, ask a teacher. In every state, teachers are already elevating their profession in ways policymakers don’t always see, but they don’t always receive the recognition and compensation they deserve for the things that make them teacher leaders, like mentoring new teachers or staying after class to help their students.

If the United States wants the best teachers in the world, we have to recognize teachers as true professionals. What does that mean? It means evaluating and compensating them fairly, based on multiple measures, just like we do with doctors and lawyers.

The progress teachers have made in Iowa is a great model, but there is still work to do. I hope you’ll join me and Secretary Duncan today by following along on social media with the #ReadyForSuccess hashtag, keeping your eyes on our Twitter and Facebook pages for photos and videos, and sharing our updates as we celebrate teacher voice in Iowa and beyond.

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