Online Community becomes a Pathway to Teacher Leadership

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A few years ago, the authors began to consider how to foster more intentional teacher leadership development among all clinical teachers who mentor teacher candidates in their Professional Development Schools. A Professional Development School (PDS) is an in-depth school-university partnership designed to bring about the simultaneous renewal of schools and teacher education programs as an educational reform approach to increasing teacher quality. In this article, the authors narrate how they were challenged to develop innovative ways that online learning communities could foster collaboration, support, and learning, especially for novice teachers, in order to break the isolationist nature of the profession. For years, they have faced challenges of time, money, capacity, and contractual issues in providing high-quality systemic professional learning for clinical teachers. Carrying the PDS approach into the 21st century, clinical teachers formed an innovative online community intended to not only increase clinical teachers' mentoring skills, but to also provide them with a pathway to seeing themselves as teacher leaders. A framework for clinical teachers as teacher leaders is presented.