The more educators and pre-service educators are given opportunities and support for leadership the better for students. For providing any kind of learning, teachers with strong leadership skills such as – lifelong learning, empathy, analysis, creativity, collaboration, communications and resilience – are most effective.
Even when providing rote learning, teachers use analysis and creativity to decide how to tailor it to students’ needs. For example, should Tom have a more private area to work in today? Should two particular students work together? Should sight words, multiplication facts, world capitals, or other rote content be learned and reviewed through games, quizzes, flash cards or how? How can Jenny’s anger today be diffused so that she and everyone else can learn? When and how frequently will be most effective to contact Pete’s guardian to communicate how Pete is doing with his behavior management? In strongest teaching, leadership traits such as lifelong learning, analysis and synthesis are used to debrief and enhance lessons, units, and strategies.
In providing deeper learning either from scratch or in adapting from another’s plans, teachers determine which topics best forward learning standards or objectives, ignite students’ interest, and can tap community or global resources.Teachers compile, organize, and analyze research materials and reach out to potential human resources. They consider timelines, formative and summative assessments, scaffolding, and enrichment. Analysis is used to determine possible implementation challenges and how they can be addressed. Interpersonal skills are needed whether teachers reach out to colleagues for their feedback on plans or plan jointly with colleagues and, as always, for relationships with students, students’ families, and colleagues.
Professional development activities can support teachers’ leadership when knowledge and questions from daily work are the foci for their research and professional development. For example, Weston (2013) describes a lesson study approach where teachers collaboratively plan a lesson. The teachers hypothesize the effects teaching activities will have on particular students. While one or more of the teachers present the lesson, another observes it. Following the lesson, the teachers interview students, and finally the teachers reflect on the lesson, its effects, and how the next version of the lesson will be informed by their findings.
In other high achieving nations teachers have ten hours a week for examination of student work, collaboration, planning, lesson study, peer coaching, and developing curriculum and assessments (Darling-Hammond, 2010). With time made, not piled onto all teachers already do, work roles can include options for collegial sharing, problem-solving, and independent study. Teachers can initiate and be involved in article writing and grant proposal writing. They may lead workshops, create assessments, participate in policy and other decision-making teams, and analyze or write case studies of practice.
As Lieberman (1995) notes:
[Teachers] drawing on experience and helping to produce new knowledge becomes as compelling as consuming preexisting knowledge. Being involved as a learner and a participant provides new knowledge and broadens the agenda for thought and action (p. 593).
To provide students with best quality learning in the long run, support leadership skill development in educators in the workplace, outside the workplace professional development, and pre-service.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The flat world and education:
How America’s commitment to equity will determine our future. New York:Teachers College Press
Lieberman, A. (1995). Practices that support teacher development. Phi Delta Kappan, 76(8), 591-596.
Weston, D. (2013, August 1). Why are teachers leaving education? Guardian
Professional. Retrieved from http:// www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2013/aug/01/why-are-teachers-leaving-education
Copyright © 2015 Lee Anna Stirling All Rights Reserved