Conference to launch research into policies affecting teacher leadership

The College of Education Department of Education Policy Studies will hold a conference Jan. 30-31 at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center on the University Park campus for faculty and students who want to impact policy development as it relates to teacher leadership.

“Re-envisioning Policy: Promoting Teacher Leadership and Re-defining Teacher Quality to Focus on Equitable Socio-emotional Development and Health” will address the question, “Can policies change the definition of teacher ‘quality’ in ways that encourage teachers to take leading roles in advocating for equitable socio-emotional development for all students?”

The conference will feature eight external experts with international experience in the areas of teacher leadership, professional development and teacher-focused policy. They will provide examples of programs or policies that have changed teachers’ ability to enact leadership that benefits the healthy development of children.

“A major problem facing the field is that the connections between teacher work on socio-emotional health and policies designed to promote teacher quality or leadership have not been well articulated,” said Gerald LeTendre, the Harry Lawrence Batschelet II Chair of Educational Administration at Penn State and organizer of the conference. “The panel will seek to clarify these interconnections, and identify specific areas of policy research that are needed.”

The ultimate goal of the conference is to draft between three and five specific research projects that would look at how teacher leaders can work to assure that all children in their schools or communities receive the support and education needed to achieve robust socio-emotional development. The participants also will identify potential funding sources, and draft executive summaries for the proposed projects and grant applications.

The conference will allow faculty and students of the College of Education to interact with major scholars and agency directors who are national or international experts on teacher leadership and teacher policy. It’s open to all faculty in the College of Education; to graduate students doing research in this area; and to other faculty across the University with an interest in teacher leadership for socio-emotional development.

Presenters for the conference are:

Edem Adubra, chief of the Section for Teacher Policy and Development, UNESCO. Adubra also is head of the Secretariat International Task Force on Teachers Policies and has worked on programs that affect the training, recruitment, deployment, career development and working conditions of teachers around the globe. He is an expert on the adaptation of national teacher polices policies within a global context.

Motoko Akiba, chair of the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, Florida State University. Akiba is an internationally recognized scholar of teacher policy and reform and teacher professional development. Her research program has been funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education and the AERA Grant Program.

Pablo Fraser, educational policy analyst, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Fraser has worked on the TALIS 2018 (Teaching and Learning International Survey) project at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). His research interests consist of the exploration, identification and description of current global trends in the development of quality educational policies. He has been involved in comparative and international research concerning teachers’ professional development, teaching practices and teachers’ well-being.

Sakiko Ikoma, researcher, American Institutes of Research. Ikoma specializes in large-scale data analyses involving U.S. and international large-scale surveys, and her statistical expertise includes hierarchical linear modeling, structural equation modeling, social network analysis and propensity score matching. She currently is working on a project evaluating existing teacher databases in the U.S.

Richard Ingersoll, professor of education and sociology, University of Pennsylvania. Ingersoll’s research is concerned with the character of elementary and secondary schools as workplaces, teachers as employees and teaching as a job. He has published more than 100 articles, reports, chapters and essays on topics such as the management and organization of schools; accountability and control in schools; teacher supply, demand, shortages and turnover; induction and mentoring for beginning teachers; teacher preparation and teacher quality; the problem of underqualified teachers; the status of teaching as a profession; and changes in the demographic character of the teaching force.

V. Darleen Opfer, vice president and director, RAND Education and Labor. Opfer has conducted policy research studies for a number of local, state and national governments on issues that affect teachers and schools, including recruitment and retention, professional development and impact of policies on teacher practice. In 2014, she was selected as a Thomas J. Alexander Fellow by the OECD where she used TALIS 2013 data to explore conditions that support teacher professional development. She served as an adviser to the National Council for Education Research and Training in India. She also served as a consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development, working on the Increased Access to Quality Education and Training Initiative in South Africa.

Jennie Weiner, associate professor of educational leadership, University of Connecticut. Weiner specializes in educational leadership and change to make both more inclusive, equitable and oriented toward collective uplift and continuous improvement. Her research focuses on issues of educational leadership and organizational change particularly in chronically under-performing and under-resourced schools and districts. She has published a major piece on challenges to teacher leadership in the Journal of Research on Leadership Education.

Jonathan Supovitz, director, Consortium for Policy Research in Education, University of Pennsylvania. Supovitz conducts research on how education organizations use different forms of evidence to inquire about the quality and effect of their systems to support the improvement of teaching and learning in schools. He also leads the evidence-based leadership strand of Penn’s mid-career leadership program and teaches courses on how current and future leaders can develop an inquiry frame of thinking about continuous improvement and the skills necessary to compile, analyze, and act upon various forms of evidence.

Adubra, Akiba, Fraser and Ikoma all are alumni of the Comparative and International Education Studies program in the Department of Education Policy Studies at Penn State.

Registration information will be posted as soon as it is available.

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