Traditionally, teacher leadership has been limited by school administrators. But the field has grown to encompass more than just the classroom. Teacher leaders are engaging in a variety of activities, from leading innovation to advocating for their schools.
Some studies even suggest that there is a link between leadership and student performance. For example, one study found that teacher leaders are most closely associated with facilitating improvements in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Another reported a statistically significant relationship between student achievement and improving outreach to families. In the real world, it’s important to know which actions to take to make your school a better place for your students and families.
One such example is the RiSE Center at the University of Maine, which has been enhancing science instruction in Maine’s schools. Designed for teachers, the program includes an online course and on-site support. The program is also designed to motivate volunteers and raise money for special supplies.
Another example is a school community outreach coordinator, who organizes events to connect students and families with local resources. These may include fundraisers and scholarship opportunities. It’s also possible to lead the transformation of your local school or community.
The best way to promote teacher leadership is to provide teachers with the tools to make the most of their skills and expertise. This means creating a clear picture of what the role of leadership will look like. You can do this by establishing a set of standards. Among these are improving communication, using technology, improving curriculum, and fostering a collaborative culture.
While the aforementioned can be achieved by any educator, the real secret to success is a commitment to helping others. Teachers must place non-judgmental value on the assistance they offer and feel a part of the larger picture. As a result, they are more likely to take on leadership roles.
Of course, not everyone can be a leader. However, teachers who have a clear idea of what they want to accomplish are more likely to succeed. Fortunately, there are many programs available to help. They can be structured as a blended learning experience with an online course and on-site support, or a fully online course with individualized feedback.
A study by MetLife 2013 Inc. surveyed more than 1,000 educators in the U.S., and found that 93 percent of students said that they feel safe at their schools. This number echoes the Carnegie Forum’s (1987) aforementioned report. Educators are also more engaged in their profession, with a majority of teachers in their school having participated in a professional association.
Lastly, the biggest and best news is that more than half of K-12 public school teachers are currently occupying some form of leadership role in their schools. This is a major change from past years. Historically, teacher leadership has been limited by school administrators, but more school districts are moving in this direction. By rethinking traditional roles, districts can create a more dynamic environment for teachers.