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EnLiST Profile

Entrepreneurial Leadership in STEM Teaching & learning (EnLiST)


The Entrepreneurial Leadership in STEM Teaching & learning (EnLiST) Partnership is comprised of Thornton High School District #205, South Holland, IL, Champaign Unit 4 School District, Champaign, IL, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which serves as the lead among these core partners. In addition, the following are supporting partners: The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA), IMSA-affiliated school districts, and Thornton elementary and middle school feeder districts. EnLiST intends to develop and build the infrastructural elements necessary to sustain a state-wide Illinois community of highly qualified science Teacher Leaders, who will effectively contribute to the transformation of science teaching and learning throughout the K-12 educational continuum in their districts. EnLiST will achieve these goals through a combination of intensive summer institutes and year-round professional development and collaborative activities. The synergy and continuity of these efforts will be ensured through establishment of an on-line community capitalizing on robust technological tools and infrastructure. EnLiST will commence with the development of core cadres of high school chemistry and physics Teacher Leaders organized into district teams. Next, the partnership will support and scaffold the activities of these core cadres as they engage in developing a cadre of middle school and elementary specialist science Teacher Leaders in their school districts. The activities of this latter participant group will focus on an interdisciplinary approach to science teaching and learning in elementary and middle school. Data collection and use will be a central theme in the development of Teacher Leaders and project operation as a whole.

The innovation of EnLiST is its intent to reconceptualize the very notion of a "Teacher Leader" by drawing on scholarship in the field of social and entrepreneurial leadership and theories of distributed leadership. EnLiST aims to create a new generation of Teacher Leaders who, armed with cutting edge content knowledge, a strong pedagogical repertoire, and entrepreneurial spirit, can support their colleagues and transform their schools into responsive and data driven institutions of teaching and learning. EnLiST will provide participant science Teacher Leaders with understandings, skills, attitudes, and habits of mind enabling them to perceive themselves, and to act, as agents of change. The entrepreneurial leadership skills that will be developed will arm these Teacher Leaders to meet the many challenges faced by teachers in the current US K-12 educational milieu, including dealing with resource constraints, uncertainty, and multiple goals often related to internally desired and externally imposed demands for change and innovation. They will be equipped to meet the challenges and tensions that have often impeded the adoption of innovative curricula and pedagogies and transformation of K-12 science instructional practices in service of addressing increasingly diverse student population needs.

The major research questions of the project will center on understanding and assessing the development of the target Teacher Leaders and the success of those leaders in transforming their own teaching. The ultimate aim is to develop a scalable national model for the preparation of social and entrepreneurial science Teacher Leaders who act as strong champions and effective initiators and implementors of change in pre-college science teaching and learning. The EnLiST research questions are: (a) What is the impact, if any, of the project's activities on participant Teacher Leaders' conceptions, attitudes, skills, and behaviors related to social and entrepreneurial leadership? (b) What is the nature of the perceived organizational culture in partner school districts in relation to barriers to, and encouragement of, innovation and change? What are the associated roles of Teacher Leaders and school administrators? (c) What is the differential impact, if any, of enhanced social and entrepreneurial leadership among Teacher Leaders on effecting innovation and change in science teaching and learning in partner school districts?