Teachers Summit highlights need for collective leadership

by Kristen Weatherby
Senior Analyst, Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS)

Yesterday was the first day of the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in New York City, co-hosted by the US Department of Education, Education International and the OECD. I was lucky enough to be an attendee, along with government and union representatives, teachers and school leaders from 24 countries around the world.

The theme of this year’s summit is Preparing Teachers and Developing School Leaders. All presentations and discussions at the summit are designed to give countries examples of high-performing systems that are successful in:
1. Placing high-quality teachers in the areas where there is the most need;
2. Preparing teachers to equip students with 21st century skills; and
3. Growing school leaders at scale.

Andreas Schleicher (who will be blogging later about the conclusions of the Summit) gave the first presentation of the summit using data from various OECD studies to frame the topics above, and then the first session started.  During the discussion, which was on school leadership, a teacher from one of the participating countries stood up to comment. She had won many national and local awards in her country, and as such had been invited by her country’s government to attend the Summit both last year and this year. However, the school leader at her school would not give her permission to attend. Last year, she just stayed home from the Summit and taught. This year, she used her personal holiday time and came to New York City. She just wanted to tell attendees how meaningful it was to know that these discussions about and for teachers were happening, and that government and union leaders at the highest levels were concerned and actively working toward things like developing better systems of collaborative leadership at schools.

As a former teacher myself, this was also what struck me about the Summit after the first day: every country in that room is committed to improve the quality of teaching, learning and leadership in their schools. It also became clear that the international sharing of practice that happens at gatherings such as this one does make a difference when delegates return home. Country representatives gave examples of learnings they had taken both from last year’s Summit and from visits to schools in other countries. They asked questions of each other to learn more about what made success possible.

Today’s sessions will be about teachers, and there will be time for country groups to reflect and plan together. We will be live tweeting on @OECDLive and will be streaming the closing session live.

International Summit on the Teaching Profession
Background report: Preparing Teachers and Developing School Leaders for the 21st Century: Lessons from around the world
OECD publications on teachers
Follow the summit on twitter @OECDLive #ISTP2012
Follow TALIS and Kristen Weatherby @Kristen_Talis
Photo credit: © casejustin / Shutterstock

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