Can Technology Support the Development of Professional Networks for Teachers to Positively Impact Teacher Retention and Improve Student Learning?

There is a lot built into this question, and I want to explore this question by framing it within two of the ISTE Standards for Educators. Namely, in reference to ISTE Standard for Educators 1, how can educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning? And, in reference to ISTE Standard for Educators 2, how can educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and to improve teaching and learning? In short – the question I am asking is: How can technology support the development of professional networks for teachers so that teacher leadership can expand leadership roles, and advancement opportunities for teachers, that can help retain effective teachers and improve student learning?

To answer this question, I wanted to first see if I could identify a technology resource that addressed how educators can improve and enhance their skills as educators in a way that advanced opportunities for them; and in turn, if such a resource could also aid in teacher retention while developing the goal of improved teaching and student learning.

I discovered the Teacher Leader Network which is now called Lead by Learning. I was attracted to this resource because their mission reads: “We are here to put learning at the heart of teaching and leading, so educators can continuously deliver on the promise of a quality education for all students. By partnering with a widening community of educators and serving as trusted advisors, we help educators design and create vibrant-led learning cultures so they evolve as leaders who lead systemic improvement and most importantly give all students opportunities to learn, grow and thrive”.

I examined this resource from four perspectives:

1- How can the technology/platform of Lead by Learning support professional networks for teachers?

2- How can the Lead by Learning network for teachers expand leadership roles and advancement opportunities?

3- How can the Lead by Learning network help retain effective teachers?

4- How can the Lead by Learning network improve teaching and learning?

In addressing “how can technology support professional networks for teachers”, Lead by Learning has created a Platform Network that is constructed around custom coaching, consulting, program planning and design. The Network includes yearlong workshop series through an online platform focused on vision and planning for teacher collaboration. The Network also consists of a Certification in Creating the Conditions for Adult Learning which will not only promote technology designed to support professional networks for teachers, but also allows teachers to develop their skills in teacher leadership and discover advancement opportunities that are applicable to their skills and passion. This has me wondering: how significant is the year-long aspect of this program in supporting teacher retention? Meaning, is the value in the workshop series, or is the value in supported teachers feeling more effective and therefore wanting to take on more leadership roles?

The Washington based nonprofit, Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) may argue that support for teachers is what makes them more effective, and is what leads to leadership roles within their school, within their district, and within their community. CSTP supports student achievement through a focus on teaching excellence. Their focus is not on the idea that “good teaching happens by accident”. Rather that “high-quality teaching occurs when there is a strong system and a strong profession that supports teachers”. The professional platform of CSTP focuses on Teacher Leadership by providing teachers with opportunities to develop leadership skills and contribute directly to policy decisions. By doing so, CSTP allows teachers an opportunity to engage the public in dialogue with the education community with the focus being on improved student learning.

Through the technology associated with professional networks such as Lead by Learning and organizational networks such as CSTP, teachers expand their leadership roles and advancement opportunities because programming is co-planned with their school, and is done at the district, county, and individual school levels. Participation in professional networks like these open school leaders, classroom teachers, department chairs, and instructional coaches to multiple career advancement opportunities. So how can these networks be integrated into a school, or how can schools capitalize on these platforms to help support their teachers and students?

The Lead by Learning Network directly integrates into schools through delivery of their platform remotely or onsite. Through remote learning in partner schools, onsite implementation, and the offering of hybrid programs, Lead by Learning is able to integrate into schools by helping teachers create equity-seeking learning cultures, re-focusing collaboration on student learning, and nurturing leadership mindsets to drive student learning improvement. The advantages of these efforts help build a stronger focus on equity, student voice, and transforming teacher practices. The technology built into their program delivery is designed to create opportunities for educators to model learning, and to do so in a way that moves from a culture of curriculum adherence, to a culture of student learning built on creativity and curiosity. This level of support through technology not only improves the retention of effective educators, but helps improve teaching and learning. In fact, Lead by Learning reports that through working in partnership with meaningful data, and by questioning teaching assumptions, their impact has shown that 97% of teachers engaged with their platform and programs have changed their approach to instruction. That change has resulted in 3 out of 4 teachers reporting higher job satisfaction (working toward retention). 92% of teachers have accelerated student learning (improved teaching and learning), and 96% of schools and districts have reported an increase in overall teacher retention.

According to the California Department of Education, and their resource titled How To Retain Effective Teachers Through Teacher Leadership, “teacher retention and attrition have suggested that more than 40 percent of all teachers leave the profession within their first five years. Even more startling are the results of a TNTP study indicating that half of those who leave are among the most effective teachers”. Studies within this resource also note that “one reason for this high attrition rate is the dearth of opportunities for teachers to grow and lead. The makeup of the teaching force today is vastly different from just 10 years ago, and is shifting quickly. Research on the attitudes of these teachers indicates that they want to grow as teachers and leaders and serve in different capacities as educators over their careers, but by and large, these needs aren’t met by the education system”.

There is no question that technology supports the development of professional networks for teachers. And there is no question that teacher leadership can expand leadership roles, and advancement opportunities for teachers, which improves teacher retention and student learning. Professional Networks such as Lead by Learning, and nonprofit organizations such as CSTP, allow teachers to advance while ensuring that their impact and effectiveness is felt both in and out of the classroom.


The web link for Lead By Learning is:

The web link for Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession (CSTP) is:

The web link for California Department of Education, How To Retain Effective Teachers Through Teacher Leadership is:

One comment:

  1. Hi Michael,

    I just wanted to say that I found your research on empowering and inspiring educators to grow their craft in the classroom really interesting. Your program is particularly intriguing because it offers teachers the opportunity to develop leadership skills without having to leave the classroom in order to demonstrate their growth as educators.

    Thanks for sharing.

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