Research News

TN principals selected to partner with world’s top educators

Participants of the Tennessee-Shanghai Leadership Collaborative include Principals from 18 schools across the state in both urban and rural districts. (Daniel Dubois / Vanderbilt)

Tennessee teachers will soon implement a collaborative approach proving highly successful in Shanghai

Patrick Schuermann (Daniel Dubois / Vanderbilt)

In a few weeks, more than a dozen high-achieving Tennessee school principals will begin a yearlong leadership development experience, which includes a one-week trip to China to collaborate with some of the top educational leaders in the world.

The Tennessee-Shanghai Leadership Collaborative, developed by researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development, will provide a forum for principals to learn about a cooperative approach to pedagogy used in Shanghai city schools, one of the world’s highest-performing school systems. The program will support implementation of Teacher Peer Excellence Groups in a wide variety of school contexts across Tennessee.

Xiu Cravens (Daniel Dubois / Vandebilt)

“This intervention is all about transforming professional practice through collaborative lesson planning, peer observation of instructional practices and sharing feedback for growth,” said project leader Patrick Schuermann, research assistant professor of public policy and education. “[rquote]We are excited about the way our program participants will take this international exemplary practice and personalize it for their own school communities.”[/rquote]

Eighteen elementary and middle-school principals serving in urban and rural school districts in the Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville areas  were selected for the Tennessee-Shanghai Leadership Collaborative, which is funded by a $700,000 TN LEAD grant (#33150-00814) from the Tennessee Department of Education. The grant is one of eight comprising a nearly $4 million investment of Race to the Top funds to improve the quality of instruction and levels of student performance in more than 20 Tennessee school districts.

Ellen Goldring
Ellen Goldring (Vanderbilt University)

“This is a valuable opportunity to collaborate with the state to develop a leadership development approach that is uniquely aligned with its policies and approaches,” Ellen Goldring, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor and Chair of the Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations at Peabody, said.

In September, program participants and Peabody faculty will travel to Shanghai for one week to observe and learn from educators at East China Normal University’s Institute of Schooling Reform and Development, a key national research center on K-12 education effectiveness. Participants will then implement what they have learned in Tennessee classrooms.

Peabody researchers have been associated with the ECNU since 2010, collaborating with visiting scholars and graduate students through research projects on teacher professional communities, education equity and parent-teacher partnerships, according to Xiu Cravens assistant professor of the practice and associate dean of international affairs at Peabody.

“The TN LEAD grant provides the perfect opportunity for Peabody to work with our colleagues at ECNU to connect university-level research collaboration with such effective practice,” Cravens said.

In the spring of 2014, East Normal University educators will travel to Nashville to meet with Peabody faculty and program participants and observe how they have implemented the intervention in their classrooms and schools.