Teachers as Leaders
Leadership is a term that can mean many different things depending on the setting. In addition, there are many different leadership styles and no two individuals are the same. Each person has their own perspectives based on their individual cultures, educational backgrounds and personality traits. All of these things affects how the information that they are being given is processed and interpreted. An effective leader must have the ability to adapt their leadership style to the needs of the immediate person or situation.
Teachers fulfill many roles in today’s world and one of the most important is the role of a leader. Teacher leadership occurs every day in the classroom and provides an environment that enriches the lives of not only the students but all of the professionals with whom they come in contact.
There have been numerous studies that have attempted to determine the essential traits that make up a good leader. Following are those that I feel are consistently seen in teacher leaders.
1. Passion. Teachers are very passionate about teaching and learning. They continuously feed their passion by staying on top of the latest evidenced based practices for teaching their students. In addition, they are passionate with regards to professional learning to enhance their career goals.
2. Integrity. Teacher leaders display honesty in all of their interactions with their students, colleagues and administrators. Also they are trustworthy and can be counted on to produce quality work and meet all of the many timelines that are part of their everyday commitments. When they make a promise to their students they always follow through.
3. Collaborative. Teacher leaders ask for input from all the members of their classroom team, their colleagues and administrators. They realize that to be a truly effective teacher leader they cannot close their classroom door and operate independently.
4. Communicative. Teacher leaders are able to clearly articulate their vision for their classroom in order to insure that the team is working towards the same goal. Teacher leaders are also able to communicate the vision for each student to parents and anyone else that is part of the student’s learning community. Teacher leaders are able to communicate to each student the goals that have been set for them so that the student has a clear picture of the path that they and the teacher are on.
5. Positive Attitude. Teacher leaders consistently demonstrate an upbeat demeanor that motivates those with whom they interact on a daily basis. They manage to maintain an important balance between productivity and fun.
6. Confidence. Teacher leaders stay calm and confident when faced with a setback. They keep the team moving forward and focused on the long term goals. When a student is having a hard time either with an academic concept or maintaining appropriate classroom behavior, the teacher is the voice of calm in the middle of the student’s storm and is able to re-focus the attention of the student back to the task at hand.
7. Inspirational. Teacher leaders keep their students and teams invested in the goals that have been set. They do this though acknowledging both large and small accomplishments that are made daily.
8. Engagement. Teacher leaders keep their teams engaged. They do this by challenging them and asking for their input on a frequent and consistent basis. Teacher leaders keep their student’s consistently engaged by setting high expectations and reachable goals.
9. Fearlessness. Teacher leaders are not afraid to take risks and in doing so, make mistakes. They realize that making mistakes allows them an opportunity for growth. By doing so, they create an atmosphere in their classroom that encourages all team members and students to take risk without the inherent fear of making mistakes.
10. Celebrators. Teacher leaders take time to recognize all the accomplishments the students and team have made.