MIAMI —The University of Florida College of Education’s first international academic conference is expected to draw hundreds of educators to explore the crucial role a new generation of “teacher leaders” can have in improving schools and student achievement.
The conference, to be held March 2-3 in Miami, will bring together scholars and practitioners from across Florida, the country and the world to examine the emerging field of teacher leadership, which aims to increase teacher involvement and influence over school policies, practices and outcomes to improve teaching and learning.
“If we want to improve what happens for kids in classrooms and schools, we need to harness teacher expertise, cultivate teacher leadership, and elevate the profession of teaching,” said Philip Poekert assistant director of the Lastinger Center for Learning, the College of Education’s educational incubator, which is organizing the conference.
“Teacher leadership,” he added, “centers on a two basic ideas: First, teaching is the most important thing that influences student learning in schools, and secondly, teachers know teaching better than anyone else.”
This week, organizers finalized the conference’s extensive program, which will include nearly 100 workshops, speeches and presentations. Here’s a sampling:

Title  Presenter(s)  Details
Engaging in Teacher Leadership Fearghal Kelly, Scottish College for Educational Leadership What is effective teacher leadership and how can teachers be supported to develop as teacher leaders? Those are among the questions explored in a paper about a substantial engagement on teacher leadership across Scotland.
What is the Value of Teacher Leadership in School Turnaround? Jill Harrison Berg of the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Christine Connolly, Chinelle Andrews, Abda Rebecca Lee, Kristina Kelleher-Bianchi of Boston Public Schools A case study to explore a two-year turnaround effort at an urban school that made use of teacher leadership.
The school principal, leadership coach, and a classroom teacher will share the findings and engage participants to explore dilemmas they faced.
What Happens When We Create a Platform to Promote Teacher Voice and Collaboration to Influence Various Areas of Teacher Practice? Donald Garry Nicolas, second-grade teacher, Pembroke Pines Charter Elementary School, East Campus, Broward County School District Exploration of the creation of a teacher-powered podcast entitled, “Give Me 10 Minutes: The Premier Teacher-Powered Podcast.” The podcast was created by teachers to discuss topics that are relevant to teacher practice and development.

Scheduled keynote speakers are widely known for their methods of teaching and scholarship to improve education from the inside out. They include:

  • Gloria Ladson-Billings’ research examines the practices of teachers who are successful in multicultural classrooms. She is the author of critically acclaimed books, including “The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children.” She holds the Kellner Family Distinguished Chair in Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Nancy Fichtman Dana is a best-selling author and expert in the study of teacher inquiry. She serves as a professor of education in the School of Teaching and Learning at UF’s College of Education.
  • John MacBeath is professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge and has authored or co-authored 20 books on education. He serves as director of Leadership for Learning at the Cambridge Network and project director for the Centre for Commonwealth Education.

The formal title of the conference is “Co-constructing a New Vision for Teacher Leadership: A Conversation Among Scholars and Practitioners About Teacher Leadership.” It is open to all educators. The registration fee is $250. Educators can register online and even at the door of the conference, which is being held at Miami’s Hyatt Regency.
The conference is s being co-sponsored by the international academic journal, Professional Development in Education.
See the conference website to learn more about the event and register.

Source: Philip Poekert, UF Lastinger Center for Learning, 305-586-8665
Writer and Media Liaison: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4449