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“Nothing in my professional career has done so much as the Teacher Leader Academy to change my thinking and improve my instructional practices. Thanks to my learning in TLA, my students are becoming much more thoughtful, enthusiastic and proficient readers.”

The Teacher Leader Academy (TLA) initiative is a district-wide professional development effort focused on significantly improving reading instruction in CDA classrooms.  The Academy brings together approximately sixty administrators, teacher leaders, and instructional coaches for monthly all-day sessions.  Participants in the Academy share ideas, study video of reading instruction, spend time in teaching labs, explore research, and bring efforts and data from their own classrooms to assess their reading instruction.  School teams are then charged with “bringing their learning” back to their colleagues in their own schools through Monday collaboration sessions, grade level meetings, etc. 

The TLA  is underpinned by a belief that a “balanced” approach to literacy is crucial in order to create competent and passionate young readers.  The term “balanced” implies that young readers benefit when reading instruction focuses on three major components: 1) fluency, 2) thinking strategies for understanding text, and 3) a great deal of “real” reading where children are immersed in reading and discussing books of their own choice. 

As part of the initiative, Dr. Margaret Vaughn and several research assistants from the University of Idaho are conducting ongoing research on the reading practices and reading development of young readers in classrooms across the district to determine the improvement in reading proficiency and agency related to the efforts of the Teacher Leader Academy.