Teachers have always been concerned about their students and their school, and they now have the opportunity to bring about educational change as a teacher leader.
Modern teacher leaders don’t have to leave their classrooms to become agents of change. New leadership roles have evolved to allow teachers to remain teachers, but to have a far-reaching effect with the development and implementation of ideas and programs based on their own experience.
While every teacher cannot be a teacher leader, those who wish to improve the educational system often bring their co-workers along with them in a joint effort to achieve those goals. Today’s teacher leaders aren’t looking for “higher” or “superior” positions, according to studies on leadership, but view leadership as collaboration with other teachers in many varied roles.
The leadership roles assumed by teachers vary widely from teacher to teacher and school to school. Some of the ways teachers contribute beyond their classroom are as follows:
New teachers and student teachers need mentors, leaders who will help them learn all they need to know about the school, its procedures, politics, and curriculum. They are generous with their time and knowledge and serve as role models. The teacher leader helps this newcomer become comfortable and able to develop into a valued, successful teacher.
2. Learning Facilitator
Helping teachers to learn from one another and with each other is another teacher leader function. When a group of teachers work together as a team to improve their teaching skills, they not only make professional gains, but develop a sense of comradery and eliminate feelings of isolation some teachers suffer.
3. Curriculum Developer
Stepping forward to lead in the improvement or change of curriculum is an important role of a teacher leader. Preparation for this role entails study and comprehension of your state’s curriculum content standards, understanding how different parts of the curriculum relate to one another, and presentation of this curriculum course to the teachers and administrators in your building or district.
4. Parent and Community Liaison
The school should not be an island, but an integral part of the community. Teacher leaders can help both parents and members of the community to be involved in school activities. Partnerships with local businesses and nonprofit community groups can be organized to strengthen that bond and also to tap new resources for your school and open the door to learning opportunities for your students through speaker programs or internships.
Leaders teach by example and students are encouraged to learn if they observe a teacher who is always striving to improve and has a lifelong pattern of learning. Your ability to try new things in your classroom based upon something you read or learned about while attending a conference can be exciting for not only your students, but other teachers who are curious about what you are doing. Technology is a great tool for sharing your knowledge and allows you to develop a webinar or lead an online discussion with other teachers. Teacher leaders can blog or write about new ideas on social media sites for educators. Most teachers like to learn, but true teacher leaders add value to others by sharing their new discoveries.
A leadership role can begin by furthering your interests and sharing them with other teachers and expand to a designated position with specific responsibilities in your school. Everyone has a different talent or interest, but all teachers have the ability to serve as leaders to improve education within their schools and benefit their students.