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Teaching As Leadership: The Highly Effective Teacher's Guide to Closing the Achievement Gap

Teach For America, Steven Farr, Jason Kamras (Foreword by), Wendy Kopp (Afterword by)
ISBN: 978-0-470-43286-0
352 pages
February 2010, Jossey-Bass
Teaching As Leadership: The Highly Effective Teacher


A road map for teachers who strive to be highly effective leaders in our nation's classrooms

Teach For America has fought the daunting battle of educational equity for the last twenty years. Based on evidence from classrooms across the country, they've discovered much about effective teaching practice, and distilled these findings into the six principles presented in this book. The Teaching As Leadership framework inspires teachers to: Set Big Goals; Invest Students and Their Families; Plan Purposefully; Execute Effectively; Continuously Increase Effectiveness; Work Relentlessly. The results are better educational outcomes for our nation's children, particularly those who live in low-income communities.

  • Inspires educators to be leaders in their classrooms and schools
  • Demystifies what it means to be an effective teacher, describes key elements of practice and provides a clear vision of success
  • Addresses the challenges every teacher, in every classroom, faces on a daily basis

An accompanying website includes a wealth of tools, videos, sample lessons, discussion boards, and case studies.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Jason Kamras xi

Introduction 1

Chapter 1: Set Big Goals 15

Foundations of Effective Goal Setting 18

Inspiring Strong Results with Measurable Outcomes 19

Inspiring High Performance with High Expectations 26

Leading with Students’ Needs and Interests 36

The Qualities of Effective Big Goals in Action 37

What Measurable Academic Progress Should My Students Achieve? 41

What Traits and Mindsets Will Best Serve My Students? 44

What Pathways to Student Opportunity Should Inform My Big Goal? 45

What Student Interests and Motivations Could Shape the Big Goal? 46

Conclusion: Key Ideas and Next Questions 48

Key Ideas 48

Next Questions 49

“Why Do People Set Big Goals?” from Ms Lora’s Story 50

Chapter 2: Invest Students and Their Families 53

Key Elements of Investment 57

Shaping Students’ Mindsets 57

Collaborating with Students’ Families and Influencers 62

Strategies for Investing Students 72

Creating a Welcoming Environment to Increase Student Investment 72

Developing a Culture of Achievement 84

Investing Students Through Instruction and Learning 98

Conclusion: Key Ideas and Next Questions 102

Key Ideas 102

Next Questions 103

“What If You’re Wrong?” from Ms Lora’s Story 105

Chapter 3: Plan Purposefully 107

Foundations of Purposeful Planning 110

Developing Your Vision of Success 111

Translating Your Vision into a Well-Designed Assessment 112

Mapping Out a Vision-Aligned Plan by Imagining Yourself Implementing It 115

Three Forms of Classroom Plans 119

Long Term Plans 119

Lesson Plans 123

Classroom Management Plans 135

Conclusion: Key Ideas and Next Questions 137

Key Ideas 138

Next Questions 139

“It Still Tastes Good” from Ms Lora’s Story 140

Chapter 4: Execute Effectively 143

Key Elements of Effective Execution 146

Doing Well What Must Be Done 146

Insisting on Seeing Reality 148

Adjusting Course as Circumstances Change 150

What Effective Execution Looks Like in the Classroom 152

Effectively Communicating Key Ideas 152

Coordinating Student Practice 153

Checking for Understanding 154

Tracking Progress 158

Maximizing Efficiency with Organization and Routine 161

Asserting Authority 163

Conclusion: Key Ideas and Next Questions 167

Key Ideas 168

Next Questions 169

“Light Monitor Form Collector Plant Manager” from Ms Lora’s Story 170

Chapter 5: Continuously Increase Effectiveness 173

Foundations of Continuous Improvement 175

Effective Teaching Is a Learnable Skill 175

“Data may not tell us the whole truth, but it certainly doesn’t lie” 177

We Drive Our Own Improvement 178

No Teacher Is an Island 179

A Cycle of Reflection That Leads to Increased Effectiveness 182

Phase One: Analyzing Outcomes 183

Phase Two: Discerning Causes 185

Phase Three: Identifying and Implementing Solutions 191

Conclusion: Key Ideas and Next Questions 192

Key Ideas 192

Next Questions 193

“This Was My Summer School Seat” from Ms Lora’s Story 194

Chapter 6: Work Relentlessly 197

We Control Our Students’ Success and Failure 198

Key Elements of Working Relentlessly 200

Persistence 200

Maintaining High Expectations 202

Expanding Time and Resources 206

Expanding Your Influence 209

Sustaining This Work Over Time 217

Conclusion: Key Ideas and Next Questions 223

Key Ideas 223

Next Questions 225

“You Are Going to Be Totally Handsome in Them” from Ms Lora’s Story 226

Conclusion 227

Afterword: Teaching As Leadership and the Movement for Educational Equity by Wendy Kopp 231

Appendix A: Teaching As Leadership Rubric 237

Appendix B: About Teach For America 269

Appendix C: Our Approach to Teacher Development 273

Appendix D: How We Learn from Our Teachers 285

Teacher Biographies 291

Notes 317

About the Author 328

Acknowledgments 329

Index 331

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Author Information

Steven Farr leads Teach For America’s efforts to discern what distinguishes teachers whose students in low-income communities achieve dramatic academic growth. Those findings inform the organization’s teacher selection, training, and support. Farr also works to build the organization’s knowledge by learning from and sharing with other organizations working toward educational equity.
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"Teaching as Leadership demonstrates a commitment to and professional endorsement of the power of teachers. Farr's book speaks to the moral, ethical, and economic imperative to effect improved achievement for all students, not just some. This is a must-read for anyone at any level of our education system, including those who are preparing to revise and reauthorize NCLB." (Huffington Post, March 1, 2010)
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Press Release

February 16, 2010
Teaching As Leadership: The Highly Effective Teacher's Guide to Closing the Achievement Gap

NEW YORK, February 9, 2010—Teach For America announces the release of the book Teaching As Leadership: The Highly Effective Teacher’s Guide to Closing the Achievement Gap, written by Teach For America Chief Knowledge Officer Steven Farr and published by Jossey-Bass. This guidebook for K-12 educators and its companion website are based on Teach For America’s 20 years of studying its most effective teachers.

Since its inception, Teach For America has trained and supported nearly 25,000 teachers in communities where the academic achievement gap is most pronounced. These teachers have worked with some 3 million children living at or near the poverty line, most of whom are performing well below their peers in higher-income neighborhoods. Sharing hundreds of success stories from these classrooms, Teaching As Leadership demystifies how the most effective teachers in underserved schools lead their students to dramatic academic progress despite the additional challenges of poverty.

The book guides readers through the Teaching As Leadership framework at the foundation of Teach For America’s training and support program. Teach For America developed this framework after observing that the strategies of its most effective teachers were the same strategies employed by successful leaders in any challenging context. The book’s accompanying website, www.teachingasleadership.org, demonstrates these strategies in action with videos, step-by-step guidance, advice on common pitfalls, and other tools. Teaching As Leadership, with a foreword by 2005 National Teacher of the Year Jason Kamras (D.C. Region Corps ’96) and an afterword by Teach For America CEO and founder Wendy Kopp, is a practical resource and a call to action, affirming that our nation can reach the day when every child has access to an excellent education.


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