Teachers as leaders
Updated: Jan 2, 2021
Throughout my teaching career I have been in the presence of many teacher leaders and have, myself, been a teacher leader in resource creation, curriculum development and technology. The level of support and modelling an informal teacher leader can offer others is often well-received by others, as a level of mutual respect exists and intimidation is eased as both teachers and teacher leaders see themselves as generally equal in terms of the school structure or hierarchy. However, the ever-rampant existence of tall poppy syndrome does often cut down those that appear to stand above the rest. Despite this, in schools where change is imminent, informal teacher leaders can offer support to both teaching staff and the busy executive by taking on roles that the executive does not have time or the expertise for. This may be in the case of introducing a new Learning Management System (LMS) for example. This is currently occurring at my college. An enthusiastic IT teacher saw the need to standardise and streamline our IT systems to deliver content to students with a more consistent approach and to store teachers’ work in a place that is accessible to those that need it. This teacher has, through his own initative, become a teacher leader to guide the process of adopting a new LMS and is now working to develop the system and roll it out in 2019. As a TL, I have assisted him by joining the LMS committee, providing feedback on appropriate programs, assisting with the design and layout, and will in the future assist in staff professional development of the new LMS. As Daneilson points out, a key trait of leadership is the ability to effectively collaborate with others to muster a movement (2007). Unfortunately, we have seen many teacher leaders lose interest and/or become stifled by an unsupportive executive team and environment. At times, those in formal leadership positions or positions of power, feel threatened by informal leaders and their capabilities (Daneilson, 2007). These feelings of unease lead to the shutting down of informal leaders and a sense of devaluing their work and initiative. Crucially, to develop and support teacher leaders, development opportunities must be provided and encouraged. This helps to create an environment conducive to professional growth and one that values the professional.
Danielson, C. (2007). The many faces of leadership. Educational Leadership, 65(1), 14-19. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept07/vol65/num01/The-Many-Faces-of-Leadership.aspx
[Reflection: Module 4.1]