Why is it important to have teacher leaders in our schools?
Teacher leadership refers to those instructors who not only teach in class but also assume administrative roles to facilitate school development. What is this all about? And why is this important? This article will delve deeper into this topic.
Why Teacher Leadership?
Teachers tend to stay longer in schools than administrators – Many times you’ll find that administrators tend to remain in their positions for about 3-4 years, while teachers remain for a longer time. School districts that desire improvement thus need to encourage teacher leaders since they’re best placed to complete long-term projects.
Principals’ expertise is limited – Most principals have their particular areas of instructional expertise. Individual teachers also have their specific areas of expertise; however, a group of teacher leaders can provide a wide range of expertise required for continuous school improvement.
Demands of the modern day principal are essentially difficult to meet – Nowadays principals are relied upon to be visionaries and capable managers in addition to instructional leaders. Also, the principal is the go-to person for accountability obligations set by the government and is accountable to the different stakeholders. With these many responsibilities, most administrators can’t allocate enough time to school improvement (75% of principals said in a 2012 survey that their jobs had become complex).
Skills and Qualities of Teacher Leaders
There are 2 types of teacher leaders: formal and informal
Here, there are two kinds of roles:
Formal teacher leaders – This teacher occupies positions like master teacher and departmental chair. These teachers apply for their positions. They’re trained for the new responsibilities. In several schools, they manage curriculum projects and conduct workshops.
Informal teacher leaders – They emerge unexpectedly from the teacher ranks. Rather than being selected, they step up to address an issue or come up with another program. They have no positional authority and are respected by their colleges as a result of their expertise.
Good teacher leaders should collaborate with their colleagues to support their vision and persuade others regarding the significance of what they are proposing and the practicality of their plans for improvement.
Successful teacher leaders are liberal and respect other peoples’ views. They are confident, enthusiastic and optimistic. They persevere and don’t allow obstacles to derail a major project they’re initiating. Then again, they’re flexible and willing to try an alternate approach if the first one fails.
Many qualities of good teacher leaders are basically the same as those of good teachers, that is, open-mindedness, confidence, adaptability and persuasiveness. Regardless of these similarities, working with colleagues is not the same as working with students. To assume a position of authority, they may require skills in assessment design, data analysis, and curriculum planning, among others. They might likewise need to develop excellent listening skills, conduct meetings, settle on a course of action and keep track of any progress.
Conditions that Promote Teacher Leadership
There are various conditions necessary for facilitating teacher leadership in schools
Few schools are receptive to the rise of teacher leaders, especially informal ones. School administrators play a vital role part in creating the conditions suitable for facilitating teacher leadership:
Opportunities to acquire leadership skills – The skills needed for teacher leadership aren’t part of the teacher’s preparation program. If teacher leaders are to rise and make their full contribution, they require opportunities to learn the required skills of tasks like instructional improvement, curriculum planning, assessment design, and facilitation. Teachers who want to be teacher leaders can acquire these skills via school-level professional development. However, they can likewise learn these skills via district-wide or university-based courses and various workshops. Whichever the choice, opportunities must be accessible and convenient for teachers to make the most of – a survey was done in the US whereby more than 4200 teachers and principals participated revealed that 25% of teachers had taken on a teacher leader role.
A suitable environment for one to take risks – Teachers should be confident that they won’t be criticized for communicating ideas that may seem strange at first. School administrators should ensure that it’s safe for teachers to express their thoughts freely and take professional risks.
School administrators who encourage teacher leaders – The development of teacher leaders depends upon the administrators’ will to encourage them. They (administrators) ought to be proactive in assisting teachers to acquire the skills required to make the most out of opportunities for leadership (conducting meetings among others). However, some administrators tend not to do so, fearing that determined teacher leaders might undermine their authority.
Consequently, you might find that most good teachers leave the profession within the first 5 years. This high turnover rate cost the US more than $7 billion yearly!
The above are points that support this issue of teacher leadership. It’s an idea whose time has come, and we should embrace it.
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Kevin Nelson is a professional educator and a private tutor with over 8 years of experience. He is also a content writer for various blogs about higher education, entertainment, social media & blogging. During his off time,