La PORTE — La Porte High School teacher Erin Parker is taking her skills in leadership to the next level this school year.

Parker, along with other ambitious educators across the state, will be participating in the Indiana Department of Education’s 2019-20 Teacher Leaders Bootcamp.

The bootcamp held its first meeting in mid October and will continue with four more leadership workshops spread throughout the rest of the school year.

The opportunity to collaborate with other teachers is what inspired Parker to apply for the bootcamp.

“I am deeply interested in leadership, and I truly feel leadership is a verb not a noun. We are leaders by the way we act not by titles we hold,” she explained. “When I saw that could apply to a group that would help me refine my leadership skills and would put me in a room full of teachers with the same passion, I jumped at the chance. I want to help make my school better always.”

Teams of teachers working in similar content areas were put together to work on leadership within their specialties. The teams spent the first two days of the five day bootcamp getting to know each other and setting the foundation of what they wanted to accomplish throughout the year.

The bootcamp also brought in a representative from the University of Chicago to lecture the teachers about organizational factors that have been shown to impact school success.

“[During] the first day we dove into those factors and analyzed where our schools excelled or had areas of improvement," Parker said. "On the second day, a professor from the University of Florida introduced the idea of teacher inquiry, where teachers pose a question they feel needs answered due to an issue in their classroom or school and then do research to address it.”

The teachers attending the bootcamp will be doing their own teacher inquiry in their own schools throughout the school year and presenting their findings in Indianapolis.

“I am looking at doing my inquiry about teacher collaboration and the impact trust has on teacher engagement and ownership,” Parker said. “With a school the size of LPHS, I want to see if I can find ways to build trust among a staff that rarely has time to meet and work together, especially in different context areas. I believe a connected and supportive staff is the foundation to a great school for our students.”

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