When I reflect on the term teacher leadership, what comes to mind are these key ideas:
learner, visionary, passionate, committed, highly engaged, innovative, and reflective
Teacher leadership is about impacting the learning culture and functioning as change agents in your classroom, school, or district. Teacher leaders are critical to the growth and evolution of a school district and play a crucial role in the instructional leadership cog of the system. Teacher leadership is not about “teacher power.” It’s about a passionate pursuit of extreme performance and ideas- with a deep questioning, learning, sharing, and collaborative attitude. Teacher leaders must be learners and risk-takers, innovate, work toward continual growth and improvement, question and reflect – but also understand that it is not solely about their learning, growth, and aspirations. Teacher leadership is about supporting your colleagues toward developing their leadership and growth capacities. Most importantly, teacher leaders need to have a clear understanding of the vision and mission and demonstrate in their daily practice an unwavering commitment to excellence in education and preparing our students for their futures.
Are you a teacher leader? What can you do to fully develop your potential as a teacher leader? Reflect on these questions, create a manifesto or vision with statements of action, develop a plan of action, connect and collaborate with your administrator (s) and central office staff about your aspirations. It is your responsibility to make your voice heard. Be a Linchpin and a proactive, positive voice. Let others know your goals and how you plan to impact the learning culture for all –but remember this is not about rising to a position . Teacher leadership takes commitment, desire, and must come from your core.
- Are you a learner? What are your plans for developing a personal learning plan? What are your areas of need and passions? Do you have and active PLN (personal learning plan) that you contribute to and engage in on a regular basis?
- Are you a risk-taker? Can you think of recent risks in your learning or professional life? Do you learn from your successes and and most importantly from your failures ? Are you questioning, reflective, and action oriented about yourself in your personal and professional life?
- Are you “truly” growth-minded (read Mind Set) and write a reflection about your mind set in both your personal and professional life?
- Are you willing to do “whatever it takes”? Do you stand up for what’s right instead – even during the challenging times?
- Do you have a clear vision? Can you articulate your professional and personal vision and mission? Does your vision come from your core? Have you written a vision, mission, or manifesto and made it public? Is your vision so clear that anyone who knows you can articulate it?
- Are you committed?
- Are you open-minded, flexible, and willing to “listen and hear” other perspectives? Are you willing to engage in generative thinking and collaboration? Do you value the collective voice of your colleagues, their knowledge, the power of collaboration vs. isolation, working toward initiatives and solutions that are not necessarily about your ideas, thoughts or needs?
- Do you innovate? Do you engage in research? Have you written a grant, an article, blog or engaged in action research studies?
- Do you contribute to the greater good in your building, district, or educational system? Are you a global learner, thinker, and communicator? Do you reflect on the “big picture” of education? Do you value connections with educators world-wide?
- Are you engaged for the right reasons? Do you really value what you do? Do you have an unwavering commitment to education and most importantly learning? What are you willing to do to impact the educational landscape in your classroom, school, and district?
- Is your motivation positive impact? A teacher leader position is not the end in itself but a means to an end – how can I benefit the learning culture – for all – in my classroom, school, or district? How can I work toward helping others – students, colleagues, parents – recognize the greatness in themselves and realize their potential? How might my teacher leadership goals and opportunities positively impact your professional practice and the students in your classroom?
Below is a Manifesto I created. It’s a working document at this point but one that drives what I do. It’s posted in my classroom right near my work station so I can reflect and take action every day. Try it! In an upcoming post I’ll address writing a personal and professional vision.