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Beyond Incentives: Three Years of Cultivating Teacher Leadership in Career Pathways

“I feel a lot of ownership in this school because I do feel like my work really matters here and makes a difference.”

–Bushra Makiya, TIF Teacher Leader

Beyond Incentives highlights findings and recommendations based on three years of analysis of the Teacher Career Pathways work, an initiative launched in 2013 through a partnership between New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). The work was supported by a five-year grant from the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), which initially piloted the program in 78 high-need middle schools. Over four years, Teacher Career Pathways created three new roles in which experienced teachers share their pedagogical skills, coach colleagues, and build systems of collaborative learning in their schools. By 2016–17, there were 1,236 teacher leaders across 482 schools, many involved in several key citywide initiatives.

Beyond Incentives also details key findings about the impact of this program, including that teachers who work with teacher leaders report that doing so helped them to improve their own practice, that those who did so frequently were more likely to report that they felt valued in their schools and saw opportunities to advance in their profession, and that teacher leadership can foster professional collaboration, which is fundamental to overall school improvement. It explores both qualitative and quantitative data, including 26 in-depth interviews with teacher leaders, principals, and teachers; roundtable discussions with 39 teacher leaders; and more than 12,000 survey responses from educators. Based on this analysis, the report puts forth recommendations for future implementation of Teacher Careers Pathways, addressing areas such as establishing protected time on teacher leaders’ schedules, providing differentiated supports that take into account school context, and giving guidance to principals on how to best identify and collaborate with teacher leaders in order to enable lasting change.

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