23 September 2007

Teacher Leadership

There are some admins in my district who I think are doing an excellent job. What I like about these professionals is that they have a need to know what is happening inside of classrooms and how best to support the good stuff. They haven't forgotten that sense of wonder and intellectual curiosity that can be nurtured within a classroom---forsaking it for the comforts to be found behind their office doors. These teachers saw a role as administrators as a position to be in to help more children than those in their classrooms.

I know that admins make for easy targets. The fact is, the role has far outgrown what one person should be expected to take on. It is not simply "administrative" any longer: it includes a hefty dose of instructional leadership. Many of the admins who have been in the position since before the shift occurred are either not prepared to play this role in the school...or have no interest in it. Meanwhile, as more teachers see the increasing demands of the admin's job, fewer may see it as an appealing career choice---even if they do wish to increase their influence in supporting students.

Although the concept of teacher leadership is not new, perhaps it is one whose time has come. If it is unrealistic to expect a single administrator to fulfill all of the needs for a school, then why not use the collective staff resources? This month's edition of Educational Leadership is devoted to teacher leaders. It's a great collection of articles about the struggles and rewards of tapping human resources within the school in order to effect change.

Teacher leadership is, of course, also the area of my EdD. It's something I've officially been thinking about and working with for nearly two years. The most common question I am asked is "What are you going to do with your degree?" I don't have a pat answer in mind. The fact is, there appear to be new opportunities all of the time...and I'm trying to be open to them. Should I work at a college or university to better prepare teachers for the rigors of the classroom? Should I work within the context of one of the educational research labs to fine tune what we know (or think we know) about best practices? Work as an instructional/curriculum specialist for a district or school? Do I hit the road as a consultant? Or teach in a public school classroom and work with teachers in my school? What other opportunities might be available to me in a year or five years? For me, the bottom line is the same as it is for many admins, I'll be looking for where I will be able to do the most good for kids.


druin said...

Okay, that was creepy :) I followed your link to Ed Leadership only to find an article about my school and a program that I've been involved in for the past few years.

Thanks :) It's been a rough evening, so to see our accomplishments heralded by an outsider helped my attitude quite a bit

The Science Goddess said...

Sorry to creep you out, LOL, but congratulations on the fine work at your school!

I hope your days are better.

Anonymous said...

I have often heard the phrase "roving leaders" to describe those teachers who actually are the leaders in the building. Say what you will about formal leadership positions, these informal leaders are truly the heart and soul of every school. Thanks for recognizing them.
Tom Hanson

druin said...

Thanks :)

Someday I hope to understand why administrators find it so difficult to tell a teacher "good job", yet find it so easy to brag about it in a national magazine :) I passed on the article to the others teachers involved - none of them were aware of it either.