Growing Leaders, Growing Capacity: Discovery Education’s Digital Leader Corps

Dr. Karen Beerer

Across the country, school systems are transforming teaching and learning by creating dynamic digital learning environments. These modern, engaging classrooms rely on digital content as their primary instructional resource, and more closely mirror students’ interaction with technology and media outside school walls.

This digital transformation represents a tremendous paradigm shift for school systems. In many cases, school administrators are seeking to build the capacity of teacher-leaders to support this innovative change movement.

In response to this growing need, Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, created the Digital Leader Corps.  A customized system of professional learning, the Digital Leader Corps:

  • Drives system transformation,
  • Builds a culture of continuous improvement,
  • Supports a shared leadership model, and
  • Maximizes teachers’ impact on student learning.

Featuring a unique combination of professional development, pedagogy and tools, Digital Leader Corps helps participating educators learn to integrate educational technologies and digital media into classroom instruction. A new innovation included in the model is educator created, student-centered Learning Labs. In these labs, teachers bring new teaching strategies to life, while practicing and adapting their skills in their classroom before sharing their successes broadly with their colleagues.

In addition, the Digital Leader Corps provides teachers with continuous customized consultation throughout the process with on-going modeling, coaching and feedback from Discovery Education’s expert team.

Finally, the Digital Leader Corps utilizes multiple measures of data to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of participants’ professional learning.  Through surveys, direct observations, increased use of digital content and tools by teachers and students, and gains in student achievement, school systems can monitor the impact of the plan and adjust their efforts as necessary to achieve desired outcomes.

The Digital Leader Corps was launched in 2014 and one of the early adopters of the model was the Wake County Public School System. As the largest school system in the state of North Carolina, the Wake County Public School System serves 150,000 students across 169 schools. In order to make an effective, large-scale shift to the Common Core state standards, Wake County focused on equipping its teachers with the appropriate tools and training to integrate technology into their classrooms through the Digital Leader Corps initiative.

In the first year of the partnership with Discovery Education, Wake County educators shared real examples of how their classrooms have transformed into student-centered learning environments as a result of the tools and strategies gained from Digital Leader Corps training; a shift that has not only increased student engagement, but has also impacted teacher engagement as well.

We live in an era of change and nowhere is this more apparent than in our education system.  To effectively manage the instructional shifts driven by the digital transition and maximize the new technologies and resources available to educators and learners, school administrators need a cadre of empowered teacher-leaders to support change.  The Digital Leader Corp is a tremendous way to nurture the teacher-leaders who can drive lasting systemic change.

More information about Discovery Education’s partnership with the Wake County Public Schools can be found here.

This post is part of our “Preparing Leaders for Deeper Learning” series.  If you have thoughts about what today’s school leaders should know and be able to do and how they should be prepared, we’d love to hear from you. Contact [email protected] with the subject “Preparing Leaders” for more information.

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Dr. Karen Beerer is Vice President, Professional Development at Discovery Education. 

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