Special education teachers frequently assume formal or informal leadership roles and responsibilities across disciplines, yet little research exists on the experiences and needs of teacher leaders within the diverse field of special education.

A new paper in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Teacher Leadership co-authored by Sylvia Bagley of the University of Washington College of Education and Kimmie Tang of California State University, Dominguez Hills seeks to fill that gap.

Bagley, director of the master’s program in instructional leadership at the UW, discussed findings from the study, “Teacher leadership in Special Education: Exploring skills, roles, and perceptions,” in a new podcast from the UW College of Education.

While the leadership skills and dispositions of special education teacher-leaders (SETLs) overlap with those of general education teacher-leaders, Bagley said, SETLs provide uniquely critical support through their work as innovators, advocates, facilitators and administrative "point people" within a school site. However, these educators are generally not called out as needing or benefiting from the type of training that other teacher leaders can access, despite the benefits for schools and students.

“That was a theme that came through in our interviews with all these teacher leaders was this perpetual sense of being considered on the periphery,” Bagley said, “yet they’re really integral to what goes on in a school site.”

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Sylvia Bagley, Director, Master's Program in Instructional Leadership

Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications
206-543-1035, dwunder@uw.edu