"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected."
While attending a workshop today at Rider University I carefully reflected upon what constitutes "teacher leadership." Over the course of my twenty one year teaching career I have always been surprised when I have observed educators shying away from informal leadership roles because they do not "view themselves as a leader." The fact that they are serving in a teaching role responsible for the education of children suggests that quite the opposite is true. Their principals that hired them and the eager faces and smiles that await them each and every day certainly suggest otherwise as well. What then constitutes a "teacher leader"?
Do we define the "teacher leader" as someone who builds a transparent classroom culture by building relationships with their students and parents, based on trust and respect?
Or is the "teacher leader" the person who provides learning opportunities for their students based on independent choices which enable them to find their own voices?
Perhaps the " teacher leader" is that person who collaborates and shares ideas with their colleagues, investing time and energy to improve the educational experience for both staff and students.
Maybe the " teacher leader" is the soft spoken listener who provides support when it is needed and guidance when it is requested.
The " teacher leader" assuredly puts "kids first" and will do anything to promote the joy of learning for both adults and children.
The " teacher leader" is an active learner and consistently looks for ways to improve their own performance and ultimately the educational experience that they provide for their students.
The "teacher leader" is driven by their purpose and seeks to grow while being an " agent of positive change."
As teachers it is our responsibility to provide leadership to those we serve. Those children each and every year that walk through those school house doors, expect that we will provide it for them. There are many ways that this can be accomplished but ultimately we must lead. We can assist in learning through navigation and facilitation. We can provide instructional experiences that empower our students to both consume new knowledge and create new applications as a result. We can also provide lessons that engage the spirit and minds of our students, leaving them with the desire to learn more. When we work with our students in any capacity with the desired goal of achievement and advancement, we are leading them.
Are you a teacher leader? Most definitely those who provide formal education for others, are. Maybe the better question is; Are you an effective teacher leader? Ultimately if we seek to improve ourselves, our craft, our students and invest in a positive school culture for all stake holders, then we are off to a good start. However we must never get complacent and we must always strive to improve. Thus ensuring from an educational perspective that our tomorrows far surpass our yesterdays.