This year during Teacher Appreciation Week, I would like to express my gratitude for several organizations that appreciate teachers who want to grow as professionals while remaining in the classroom.

The Importance of Learning from Other Teacher Leaders


This year during Teacher Appreciation Week, I would like to express my gratitude for several organizations that appreciate teachers who want to grow as professionals while remaining in the classroom.

In recent years, I found that my greatest passion was to elevate our profession by focusing on the classroom teacher as a leader. This was a natural fit for me since I served for over 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, where I developed as a leader with formal leadership training. Much of my success as a teacher has been grounded in the leadership competencies I learned during my military career. I wanted to create similar leadership development opportunities for my colleagues.

So, how does a middle school science teacher from a small district in Massachusetts follow her passion to create leadership development opportunities for teachers? She takes advantages of national level leadership opportunities!

In May 2013, I was fortunate to be accepted to the NEA/Teach Plus Future of the ProfessionFellowship. I felt incredibly connected to these high-energy teachers who were beyond enthusiastic about elevating our profession. The experience introduced me to Google Docs, Google hangouts, webinars, Twitter and Linked-In. All of these activities helped me to shape a vision for how I might deliver leadership training to classroom teachers, but I was unsure of the steps and support I would need to create and implement this type of training opportunity.

Looking for more guidance, I attended the Boston Teach to Lead Summit in February of 2015. Shortly after returning, our team established The Total Teacher Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose purpose is to host events that connect leadership development experts to ambitious and talented teachers. We recruited parents and students to support our mission and we received help from Teach to Lead support organizations. We’re now in the final stages of planning a Teacher Leadership Summit this summer for 120 teachers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Attendees will be empowered by interactive presentations by experts in the field of leadership. Teachers will recognize their value as critical leaders in society and develop an awareness of key leadership behaviors that can inspire students and influence learning outcomes.

I want to recognize the NEA, Teach Plus and the Teaching Ambassador Fellows at Teach to Lead. The leaders in these organizations, many of whom are or have been teachers, have done an outstanding job showing appreciation to teachers with a passion to transform education while remaining in the classroom.

Ellyn Metcalf is a 6th grade science teacher at the Dr. Kevin M. Hurley Middle School in Seekonk, Massachusetts. She is the founder of the Total Teacher Project (TTP), a nonprofit organization that believes leadership qualities should be developed and cultivated in teachers throughout their careers just as other professions grow their top performers. For more information or to register for this summer’s Teacher Leadership Summit visit TTP’s website at Continue the conversation on Twitter @TotalTeacherNE.

ED values the expertise that teachers bring not only to their classrooms but also to policy discussions. In addition to the Teach to Lead initiative that supports leading from the classroom, ED also sponsors the Teacher’s Edition newsletter that you can sign up to receive; this weekly bulletin gathers the latest news and info for educators – and includes resources for teachers, by teachers. The Department values the expertise that teachers bring through our Teaching Ambassador Fellowships and Principal Ambassador Fellowships . The Secretary also holds regular “Tea with Teachers” meetings to gain practitioner perspective to pertinent issues such as advocating for undocumented students and building inclusive classrooms. The Department also sponsors several internships for those who are interested in assisting the Department in their work.