Teacher-Leaders: Let’s Extend our Leadership Schoolwide

Waiting for change to happen at your school?

To paraphrase Gandhi, let’s stop waiting and be that change.

I know, this sounds trite as all get out. Sounds like something printed at the bottom of one of those cheesy inspirational posters featuring a kitten.

But, how can teachers make a difference? Most schools are top-down organizations, with change coming down to the classroom through your admin team. While this is true, don’t forget about how much your administrators actually have on their plates.

At the international private schools I have worked at, the head of school is responsible for a host of things. Here are just a few responsibilities from off the top of my head:

  • Employee Recruitment, Retention and Dismissal
  • Maintenance issues
  • Media relations
  • Parent and Community Communication
  • Internal Communication
  • Budget issues
  • Payroll
  • Taxation
  • Transportation
  • Security
  • Technology
  • Purchasing
  • Recycling/Waste Management
  • Marketing/Brand Management

So, if the school head, and their admin teammates, are busy with this kind of stuff, then who is available to make pedagogical change happen in our individual classrooms? Who can test new technology? Who can try out that new tardiness strategy? Who can implement that cutting edge writing program?

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It’s got to be us. Teachers are already leaders in our classrooms – let’s extend that leadership school wide.

But what about the formal teacher leaders already in place, you might ask? The existing structure of Team Leaders or Department Chairs can too often become representatives of admin, forwarding information from the top outwards to the other teachers. Teachers, as the front line of every school, are in a better position to diagnose concerns and to develop and implement solutions. We are the agents of change.

I am not suggesting that schools eliminate administrators. But, their role could change. The website Teachhub.com  had this to say in terms of reshaping how decisions are made in schools:

  • Decisions are made by the individuals most influenced by the decisions.
  • Appropriate information is available to those making the decisions.
  • Decision makers are adequately prepared to make data-driven decisions.
  • Decision makers hold conversations about the data and decisions.
  • Decision makers create action plans to implement decisions based on data.
  • Decision makers are expected to be accountable for the consequence of their decision.

So, rather than leading change, administrators work to support teachers as we develop and implement change. Wouldn’t you feel more buy-in for an idea if you and your colleagues came up with it? Wouldn’t you be more excited about a new strategy if it had immediate impact in your classroom?

In order for this kind of systemic change to take place, however, we need to step up. We have to get out of our silos and start talking to each other. We need to share our concerns and the new technology and practices that could move us forward. We also need to encourage and support each other when we are working on changes. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies!

Education is about doing what is best for student learning. Who better than a teacher, who works with students everyday and on a face-to-face basis, to help schools achieve this goal.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts on this, and any other education-related, topic.

Ed X!

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