SESP Offers New Master’s Program in Teacher Leadership

SESP Offers New Master’s Program in Teacher Leadership

teacher leader program

The Master of Science in Education (MSEd) program is now offering a curriculum that aligns with Illinois’s new teacher leader endorsement. The new teacher leader curriculum is designed for teachers with interest in school leadership positions such as curriculum director or department chair.

“Our program is not only one of the first that will align with the teacher leadership endorsement, but our program also will stand out,” says MSEd director Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon. “We’re enacting a vision of leadership that is powerful and that you’re not going to find anywhere else.”

The goal of the 15-course teacher leader master’s program is “to develop the skills that dynamic, reflective leaders in education need,” according to Haroutunian-Gordon. A distinguishing feature of Northwestern’s teacher leader program is that it focuses on a curriculum area — mathematics, literacy, science or the gifted.

Another distinction of the program is a master’s research project to investigate a leadership question of genuine interest.  Through a sequence of three courses over three quarters, students gain skills in research and knowledge about a topic of their choice. Since collaboration is a hallmark of the MSEd program, students participate in coaching groups where they get feedback and assistance from fellow students.

“Students in this program will have the opportunity to tailor a portion of courses to meet their own leadership needs,” says Haroutunian-Gordon. “It’s an advantage that the vision of leadership will be tailored.”

“Another plus for the program is Jim Spillane, who is a recognized world leader on this topic and has developed a vision of distributed leadership, which will undergird a lot of the work,” Haroutunian-Gordon notes. “His vision will have impact on the character of the program and the courses.” Spillane has published extensively on public policy and education reform, and his books include Distributed Leadership, Distributed Leadership in Practice and Diagnosis and Design for School Improvement.

To launch the teacher leadership program, MSEd held a kick-off event on May 29 featuring a talk by Spillane on “Teachers Who Lead, Leaders Who Teach.” In his talk, Spillane stressed the importance of focusing on interactions in considering leadership, and he displayed social network diagrams showing where teachers go for advice. “Social relationships give us access to expertise,” he asserted.

Most importantly, Spillane sees the need to prepare teacher leaders in diagnosis and design. He discussed how school leaders can design and redesign the formal organization of schools.

For more information about the teacher leader master’s program, visit the MSEd program’s website. Anyone interested may attend an information session or visit the MSEd office during weekday office hours from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 7/18/12