By Laura Bickle
Photo: Barry Hill
Jennifer Watt, OCT, has dedicated much of her 27-year career to empowering teachers through training. She’s an instructional leader at the Toronto District School Board’s Teachers Learning and Leading department, and her book, IQ: A Practical Guide to Inquiry-based Learning, was the most frequently borrowed book in the College’s Margaret Wilson Library last year. Watt’s latest endeavour was as a member of the writing team for the soon-to-be-released three-part Teacher Leadership Additional Qualification (AQ). Watt shares an exclusive sneak peek at what you can expect from this new course.
Why was this AQ developed?
Supporting informal leadership — the kind that teachers do — can create a lot of positive change. The Teacher Leadership AQ promotes the belief that we should empower teachers to participate in a problem-solving culture. It encourages OCTs to explore their roles in decision-making when dealing with complex educational challenges. It also suggests that they extend how they identify as leaders, as well as teachers. We concluded that equitable and ethical leadership were the two lenses that anchor the AQ.
What does it mean to be a teacher leader?
Teacher leaders create and advocate a school climate where collaborative learning cultures thrive. They engage in courageous conversations that pave the way for meaningful change for their students and the communities where they teach.
How will OCTs benefit from taking this AQ?
The exploration of leadership has very practical implications in how we view our students and their learning. Let’s say a teacher notices that their students are having difficulty grasping a particular skill. A teacher leader will ask their professional network, “Are you experiencing this in your classroom? Can we discuss?” Informal leadership is powerful in education.
How does it complement inquiry-based learning?
Inquiry teachers are open-minded, curious, hopeful and critical. They are committed to solving relevant problems through a process of questioning, innovation, dialogue, analysis, reflection and collecting evidence. The attributes of inquiry learners are essential for effective leadership — they are woven together. The AQ validates and hones all of these skills.