Friday, August 3, 11:00-11:30, SUB Room 233, Theme: Leadership

This presentation explores the connections between teacher leadership development and a K-12 writing initiative in a rural MT school district. Four teachers across grade levels and content areas in the Savage School District in Eastern Montana collaborated with the Yellowstone Writing Project (YWP) to lead a schoolwide initiative, culminating in the May 2018 publication of Landscapes of Savage, a book about the community written wholly by K-12 Savage students. In the process, these four teachers took on extensive leadership challenges in their school. As one teacher leader explained, “When it's a rural school like ours, you can't just be a leader in your department; you have to step up school wide.” The teachers also became full partners with other Montana teachers in YWP and provided key lessons about how better to work sustainably in rural and remote Montana schools.

Our presentation emphasizes both the process we developed - and the lessons we learned along the way - and suggests ways of replicating this in other schools, using the four teachers from Savage as leaders in consultation with other rural schools. We attend to the lived experiences of both teachers and students, using video excerpts highlighting how some of the Savage students experienced this shift in writing culture and collaboration. This project offers a way of developing teacher leaders in rural and remote schools and of inviting those teachers into a constantly growing network of Montana teachers engaged in ongoing professional development through the Yellowstone Writing Project.