Skip to content Skip to navigation

Innovative New Project by CTA, Stanford Enriches Instruction, Teacher and Student Learning on New Standards

December 1, 2014

BURLINGAME – In an innovative example of California’s teachers leading efforts to transform their profession and improve student learning,  CTA members, including National Board Certified teachers, are teaming up with Stanford University experts for a three-year project driven by a corps of veteran classroom leaders. The main goal is to provide professional learning opportunities and expertise to educators statewide to enrich instruction and foster deeper student learning with the new academic standards.

Breaking new ground for CTA, the Instructional Leadership Corps (ILC) project involves 160 accomplished teachers and 24 education leaders and administrators who are  creating professional development strategies and materials to support their colleagues in learning about and implementing the new Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards.   This first cohort of leaders will orchestrate professional learning about the standards, and train other teachers to do the same, building local instructional and leadership capacity to support new instructional practices. .

Over three years, the project will ultimately engage more than 50,000 California teachers and administrators in professional development.

The ILC is a joint effort of the 325,000-member California Teachers Association, the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) and the National Board Resource Center at Stanford University. The project is funded by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Stuart Foundation, National Education Association and the California Education Policy Fund. Learn more about the project here

“This groundbreaking partnership is about CTA members at their best – transforming our profession by strengthening instruction and curricular content and reclaiming our role in designing and developing effective learning methods for each other and our students,” said CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “Educators have a professional responsibility to drive this collaborative agenda because, at the end of the day, we’re about improving teacher quality and building better learning environments for our kids.”

“New education standards have the potential to help propel students toward greater college and career readiness, but only if they are implemented with adequate resources and preparation,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education and faculty director of SCOPE. “Ultimately it is our teachers who will be responsible for their success. The ILC enables teacher leaders to create meaningful professional learning opportunities that will help their colleagues  to make the instructional shifts required by the new standards.”

The ILC team will grow the ability of local educators to enrich instruction in their schools and create professional learning experiences for colleagues to improve teaching under the new standards. Five outcomes of the project will be to:

  • Grow a statewide corps of accomplished teachers and site-based leaders who will serve as instructional leadership consultants who can build a culture of professional learning and coherent instructional improvement;
  • Develop and deliver subject-specific professional development training to teachers statewide in math, English language arts, and science;
  • Design and deliver professional development focusing on sustainable school conditions for continuous learning to principals, their district supervisors, and school leadership teams that include teachers. The goal of this professional development is to establish workplace conditions so that all teachers in a school district can learn how to connect instruction to the performance-based deeper learning expectations of the new academic standards;
  • Coordinate with CTA, county offices of education, the California Department of Education, school districts and other regional and statewide entities to build an infrastructure to sustain continuous instructional capacity development over time;
  • Create digital learning modules in the second and third years of the project of subject-specific, grade-level instructional sequences aligned to particular standards, and address the critical role of site leaders in supporting continuous learning in and from the use of these modules.

Much groundwork has already been done. During a two-day, October training in Los Angeles to ramp up for their duties, ILC members learned from fellow educators, Stanford professors and the ILC project coordinators about instructional shifts needed for the new standards in English Language Arts and literacy, English language development, math, and science.  . 

The Corps’ participants engaged in discussions and workshops to master four domains covering knowledge of students and their needs, strong content knowledge, instructional strategies and ways to connect to student expectations . 

The ILC structure is based on extensive research that shows that instruction improves and students benefitwhen schools provide high-quality, sustained professional learning and teachers learn from school leaders experts, mentors, and peers. This is a new direction for CTA because “it’s the first time where we as teachers are forming groups to help other teachers with curriculum and instruction,” said Jeff Orlinsky, a 28-year high school science teacher in Downey Unified School District. “What makes this ILC approach unique is that there are a lot of really outstanding teachers who never know how to get their ideas to the rest of their peers. This project is helping other teachers share their ideas.”

It’s like a movement, said Montebello Unified second-grade teacher Gabriela Orozco Gonzalez, an expert on the standards who even blogs about them at her Common Core Café. A 15-year classroom veteran, she already has a workshop on the standards set. “The teachers who are part of this movement are accomplished, we really understand content, and we can write curriculum,” she declared. “The project helps build my credibility with my district.”

In the Santa Rosa City Schools district, it was a natural for Assistant Superintendent Diann Kitamura to join the ILC project, along with three district teachers. Her district already has a collaborative network project for implementing Common Core standards that includes 50 teachers from every school site. “We have created professional development of teachers teaching teachers. It works. So when ILC came along, it made sense to join. We want to learn how to gain new ideas and best practices to share with our teachers and administrators.”

San Jose’s low-income Alum Rock Union School District has had a somewhat scattered approach to training about the standards , said third-grade teacher Nate Dawson, who has a dozen years in the classroom. He looks forward to being part of a project that will expand the reach and goals of ILC to thousands of teachers.

 “We really have to get it up to scale, we have to stretch it out beyond the group we have now,” Dawson said. “I really think it’s a great chance to work with other teachers to share real professional development with each other instead of having to go through professional development that doesn’t treat us as professionals.”