At the Iowa Teacher and Principal Leadership Symposium today in Ankeny, several people mentioned that Iowa was the first state to create a teacher leadership system. As I listened to the components of the TAP system implemented in the Central Decatur and Saydel systems, I heard about master teachers who have deep content knowledge, mentor teachers who assist with instructional practices, and career teachers, who choose to spend their time focused on classroom instruction, now with more assistance from colleagues.

Iowa was making this system happen through an increase in state funding for education. This investment in people, not programs, can help the 300+ districts in Iowa build their human capital, and increase the support for teachers as they lead, guide, and push their students.

As someone who’s new to the Iowa education system in many ways, the optimism, positivity, and personal commitment I heard at this session of 250 people reinforces the quiet confidence I have in my homeland, and optimism that Iowa districts will be able to attract and retain great people to inspire our kids.

P.S.: My brief Facebook entry about the event connected to the optimism of more than 90 others who liked or commented on it. My quiet confidence is far from the only support of this system.