TCHERS' VOICE / Professional Learning

Tch Talks 10: Women Leaders in Education: Linda Darling-Hammond

Women Leaders In Education

Our new series, Women Leaders in Education, shares powerful narratives from female trailblazers in education. Our first interview is with Linda Darling-Hammond. An educational leader focused on bridging education and policy, Linda Darling-Hammond is an advocate, author, reformer, professor, and policymaker. She has been instrumental in shaping many areas within the education ecosystem, including teaching standards, assessments, educational systems, and education policy. Teachers across the nation continue to be inspired and encouraged by her powerful and thoughtful messages.

As I sat down with Linda to ask her about her motivations, inspiration, and current work, I was both excited and nervous to interview one of the most influential educational leaders in the history of American education. When Linda first accepted my invitation, my anxieties were calmed by a quotation from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on.”

As our conversation played out, I was encouraged and uplifted by Linda's many wise and timely remarks. Here are some of my highlights:

  • Listening to her speak about the importance of keeping teacher voice at the forefront of the work and students “at the heart,” (1:25) reminded me of the importance of teacher leadership.
  • Linda touched on challenging conversations, a timely and relevant topic as we struggle nationally to find common ground on many issues. Linda (8:19) lays out a pathway to successfully negotiate challenging conversations in ways that hold true to one’s values. She also reminds us that “the kids are depending on us."
  • One focus of Linda’s work is the continuing teacher shortage. She lays out a direct plan (13:00) for addressing this shortage in her work at the Learning Policy Institute.
  • Linda points to the positive results that occur when teachers and policy makers exchange ideas and viewpoints (17:45).

Listen to the entire interview below:

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As she advocates for positive change, works to move education forward, advocates for supportive teacher networks, and furthers the implementation of ideas that increase student growth, Linda Darling-Hammond has become a role model for so many educators and a central force in shaping the face of education in our nation.

I’d like to sincerely thank Linda Darling-Hammond for her willingness to take some time out of her very busy schedule to talk with me and for her invaluable contributions to the field of education on behalf of teachers and students.

Crystal Morey is a K-6 instructional coach in Kent, Washington. Crystal spent the past seven years teaching middle level mathematics. She’s a strong advocate of inquiry based mathematics instruction, as well as increasing student voice in the classroom. Crystal has partnered with a variety of organizations on projects, including Illustrative Mathematics, Washington STEM, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington State. When not teaching, Crystal is a mom to two energetic children. She utilizes her many life experiences to speak about the challenges and opportunities many educators face. Connect with Crystal on Twitter: @TheMathDancer.



As a semi-retired elementary school principal, and now an occasional interim assistant principal who serves when needed in our local school system, I'm hardly a "woman leader" in education, and I don't know that I'm much of a leader at all these days. But I have always admired Ms. Darling-Hammond - I thought she should have been the choice for Sec'y of Ed during Pres. Obama's first administration - and I thank you for broadcasting this conversation with her. I completely agree with her advice to always keep the well being of students in the forefront of any and all conversations with policymakers. I live in North Carolina, and our current legislative leaders and policymakers are not particularly friendly to public education (lots of decisions recently that support charters and vouchers, and provide less support for veteran teachers in particular, etc.), and the only way to gain entrée into meaningful conversation with ideologues like them is to find that rare bit of commonality we can nod in agreement about. I believe that perhaps the biggest piece of shared common ground, as Ms. Darling-Hammond suggests, is in the desire to do right by kids, regardless. It's not a huge piece of shared territory, but it is pretty solid, and it provides a good bedrock from which to begin searching for more areas of agreement. Anyway, thank you for doing this work. I just came across your blog because I had been searching the Teaching Channel for some possible video resources to share with a teacher I observed recently. There's a lot of good stuff to be found. I wish you the best.
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John- I am thankful for your takeaways from this conversation. I too think the ideas around how to engage in the challenging conversations to find common ground- is such a moving piece of this interview. I am so glad you happened upon the interview and continue to support all leaders in education. If I can point you to any particular resources to support the teacher you are working with- please let me know.
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