Doug Fisher

Doug Fisher, SDSU College of Education Department Chair

The new normal of distance learning requires a learning curve for everyone in the education system, from top to bottom. As students are learning to adjust to remote and hybrid learning, educators are finding new ways to engage their learning communities. 

Doug Fisher, professor and department chair at San Diego State University’s College of Education, saw the obstacles ahead and took action March 13 — the day SDSU’s in-person classes moved online. 

Fisher, along with Nancy Frey, fellow SDSU College of Education Professor, got ahead of the game to figure out the best distance learning tools and resources for educational leaders to implement. Their book, “The Distance Learning Playbook” (also co-authored by John Hattie), teaches online learning best practices. The book also shows educators how to be intentional with distance learning moving forward, as Fisher predicts aspects of distance learning are here to stay.

“The Distance Learning Playbook” uses research to present evidence-based strategies for virtual instruction. “Nancy and I got 74 teacher leaders to partner with us so we could learn alongside them what it takes to support teachers and colleagues in this new grammar,” said Fisher.

This resulted in a lot of questions about distance learning being answered, along with new questions being raised. 

“This rapid unprecedented switch to distance learning is causing us to ask a lot of questions,” said Fisher. “Student engagement is one example. How can we give students more choices to show they’ve learned the material? You’re seeing that more in distance learning.”

Fisher acknowledges the challenges that come with distance learning, for students and teachers alike. Without daily face-to-face contact it’s more difficult to maintain this student-teacher relationship. In circumstances like these, ‘it takes a village’ is not a cliché.

“You’re not just teaching the kid, you’re teaching the whole support system,” said Fisher.

Fisher highlights the opportunity for teachers to get their own lessons on virtual best practices from their colleagues in the teaching community. 

Ready to Take on a New Role on Campus?

Every teacher is a leader. That’s the tagline Fisher wants you to know, and that’s why SDSU Global Campus created the Master of Arts in Teacher Leadership

Not every teacher wants to become an administrator, but many teachers strive for positions, like department chair or grade lead. SDSU’s Master’s in Teacher Leadership program can help you influence your school community through leadership roles such as:

  • A master teacher
  • A department head
  • A curriculum leader
  • An assessment leader
  • A mentor
  • An instructional coach

The basics: The program is all online, and can be completed in a minimum of 12-14 months. 

SDSU Global Campus’ Master’s in Teacher Leadership looks a little different than other masters programs. In fact, there aren’t many like it. Most masters programs are geared toward administration roles and offer many different courses on many different topics.

Our program structure includes four core courses, which make up 21 units, and three research classes for 9 units. 

“Rather than taking lots of classes in lots of different topics, we have four big ideas and we go deep with a lot of units,” said Fisher.

Each big idea constitutes one of the four core classes, and the research courses are designed to teach you how to implement a research project in your own school.

It’s a unique model for a new, timely degree.

Be the First to Earn Your Master’s in Teacher Leadership

Designed for current credentialed teachers with at least 3 years of teaching experience, SDSU’s online Master’s in Teacher Leadership program can help you become a leader inside and outside the classroom.

Applications are open for Spring 2021. Visit to start your journey.