A Dynamic Cycle of Teaching, Learning and Leading (pdf, 30 pages)


Project: National Writing Project

Authors: Barbara Heenan

Type: Essay

Publication: March 2009


For decades teacher leadership has been widely promoted by policy makers and education leaders as a prime strategy for improving the educational enterprise. As practitioners of exemplary teaching, as innovators of pedagogy and curriculum, and as promoters of high-quality instruction for all students, teacher leaders are uniquely positioned to effect change in their classrooms, schools and beyond. They can serve as an engine of reform, transforming the culture of teaching and learning from the ground up.

Nowhere in our long careers as educational researchers and consultants have we at Inverness Research seen the potential of teacher leadership realized more fully than in the National Writing Project (NWP). As we have studied the NWP over the past fifteen years our overarching questions have been—What makes the Writing Project so effective at generating teacher leadership? What is the nature of this leadership? What is the anatomy of its success? What are the key elements and how do they work singly and in concert with one another? And finally, how can we explain what we learn to others?

Our intention in this essay is to illuminate both the nature of the teacher leadership that is generated and supported by the NWP, and the processes through which it is achieved. Our thinking about our topic is grounded in the knowledge we at Inverness Research have gathered studying the National Writing Project (NWP) as well as our work with many other teacher development projects across the nation. We have chosen to express what we have learned in the form of a reflective essay. Our aim is to share ideas gleaned from our experiences. As such these ideas are more exploratory and tentative, than summative. Our hope is to contribute to a broader ongoing discourse about the nature, purposes and support of teacher leadership, especially as it is revealed within the NWP.

Intended Audience

The National Writing Project, Federal and state policy makers, Funders, Educators, Teachers, and general public.


Any and all errors are claimed by the authors of this document, Inverness Research, Inc.

Distribution Policy

Inverness Research Inc. grants permission to print and distribute copies.