By Dr. Jenny Talburt
I began the Ed.D. program as a classroom teacher, feeling a nudge to continue learning at high levels and to grow into something for which the Lord was preparing me. Not having a clear vision for what I was working towards and simply resting in obedience, I felt seen as the coursework began to explore teacher leadership. I learned that I could be a leader right where I was, and I began to see ways to continue to develop my own dispositions for leadership. This learning supported me through the process of developing my own beliefs about leadership, realizing the informal and formal ways that I was already leading, and began my journey of understanding how to support adult learners.
Informal leadership is powerful. I learned that teachers are more likely to implement new ideas from their colleagues than they are from leader feedback or conferences. This helped me realize that I held much influence to support and build up my fellow teachers. I began to develop my skills in listening and coaching them through resolving problems, as well as encouraging their personal and professional growth.
As a teacher leader, I was already supporting an early career colleague as a mentor, as well as leading frequent professional learning sessions at my site and occasionally at the district level or conferences. It was in this program that I began to develop and understand the principles of andragogy to support the needs of adult learners well. We began to explore becoming a professional learning community, how to dialogue effectively, and ways to address conflict and to consensus. This would eventually inform my dissertation work to explore perceptions of teachers and leaders on the impact of leadership, professional learning, and resilience on early career teacher retention. It also informed the work that I was about to do.
While in the Ed.D. program, a door opened for me, and I accepted a position in my district’s Department of Professional Learning. Through this work, I have been able to coach, collaborate, and consult with site leaders and both early career and veteran teachers in my buildings. I coach with the intention to support teachers’ self-directedness and increase capacity, developing their awareness about how they might use their strengths to make a great impact. Recently, I also had the opportunity to facilitate a professional learning session for fellow coaches and school leaders on fostering teacher leadership in the districts that they serve.
In addition to my work in professional learning, I currently teach EDL 733 Teacher as Leader as an adjunct instructor, and I love getting to see my students realize their leadership potential. We explore our own leadership dispositions, analyze site and district opportunities, and make plans for influencing and supporting teacher leadership where we serve. It is a special opportunity to have the chance to invest in others and see the Lord open doors for them, just as He was faithful to do for me.
Dr. Jenny Talburt completed her Ed.D. at Evangel in 2021. She currently serves as a Learning Specialist for Springfield Public Schools (SPS) in Springfield, Missouri. Beginning with the 2022-23 academic year, Dr. Talburt will serve as the Coordinator of Student Assessment for SPS.