Teacher Leadership in Systemic Reform: Opportunities for Graduate Education Programs

Tracy Spies, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Sharolyn D. Pollard-Durodola, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Alain Bengochea, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Gloria C. Falomir, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Yunying Xu, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Nevada has recently taken considerable steps to reform English learner (EL) education across the state with teacher development as a primary focus. Educational reform agendas necessitate that teachers not only rethink their practices but teach in novel ways. It has been argued that teacher development through graduate education and other professional development (PD) avenues are ineffective in shifting instructional practices, highlighting a theory-to-practice gap. Further, it has been postulated that without teachers’ participation and leadership in reform, such efforts will fail. This article details a graduate PD model designed specifically to prepare teachers as teacher leaders and address the theory-to-practice gap. Our university enhanced our graduate educator preparation program in English Language Learning (ELL) to build statewide collaborative cohorts of urban and rural teacher leaders prepared to implement and facilitate educational improvements for ELs within their varied educational contexts.