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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in teacher leadership

Posted by on in Leadership

Mention the word, “leader,” and many people conjure up an image of a larger-than-life character who seemingly single-handedly transforms their organization for the better. A leader, as many also erroneously believe, is determined by having a title or position of importance. John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.” Teachers all over the world, regularly lead positive changes in their classrooms, schools, districts, and beyond without fanfare, recognition and often without a formal title or position. They lead because their colleagues respect and trust them. Their leadership begins from the heart. Their passion for reaching and teaching young people and love for what they do is evident. Extraordinary teachers are leaders because they inspire and motivate others to be and do their best. How they lead is multifaceted and is only limited by their creativity.

Unfortunately, too many teachers fail to identify themselves as leaders. Many educators share the mindset that leadership is for a “talented” few. This limiting belief stifles the potential of teachers that could otherwise make a larger impact on student learning and achievement. The inclination to think about “my class, my students” or even “my team”  prevents teachers from developing a greater vision. Instead of viewing themselves as leaders that accept not only the responsibility of their class but also the responsibility of all students; they see themselves as “just teachers” and limit their potential impact. Their talents and abilities largely remain an untapped resource that could enrich the lives of many more people.

The paradigm shift from “my” to “our” is subtle but powerful. When this shift happens, when teachers start to view themselves as leaders who are empowered to inspire positive changes not only in the lives of “their students” but in “all students,” they are motivated by an even higher purpose. “Every child, every day” takes on a whole new significance.

Every teacher can and must lead if they care about kids. Not all will become outstanding leaders, but everyone can improve. Leadership skills can be learned. What teachers will soon realize is that they are already leading! They need only to expand their circle of influence beyond their classroom walls.

There are as many ways that teachers can lead as there are teachers. Here are eight ways that teachers can make an even more significant impact on student learning and success. 

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Posted by on in Leadership

hero woman red cape blue sky

A teacherpreneur? What's that?

Ok...this is actually a term that has been growing over the past few years, so you may have heard of it. If you haven't, a "teacherpreneur" is an educator who uses their talents and business savvy to share their work, passion, and philosophy with others. (You can read more about them here)

This could be something as simple as becoming an educational blogger, consulting, speaking at conferences, writing a book or even creating a website (like this one!). This can also include taking on more leadership in your own district. I've been a teacherpreneur full-time for a few years now, and there are some amazing benefits that I want to share. 

1. It Increases Your Impact.

As a teacher myself, something I always hated was the limit that a single classroom had on what I was doing. I'm not trying to downplay the impact you can have as a teacher on 30 or 100 kids a year (depending on your grade level), BUT...no matter how good you are as an educator, you are limited by the number of kids in your seats.

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Posted by on in General

Don't Believe What They Tell You...

I distinctively remember during in my first year of teaching; a colleague telling me: "Hey, your first year of teaching...just blend in and fly under the radar to get through it." I also remember nodding my head and smiling as I thought, "WHY?"

I made the decision, then and there, that I wasn't going to take the well intentioned advice of my friend, but try to do the opposite. I was going to stand out in every way possible. Our students deserve the best possible version of us. They deserve leaders, trailblazers, and a professional educators that are capable of not just blending in, but impacting their students every day.

Students Don't Care If You're New

Teaching is not like most highly trained and skilled professions that have a very strategic apprenticeship or residency programs. Most first year teachers get little to no support, other than a possible mountain of paperwork that the state calls "support."

Unfortunately, new teachers are often thrown head first into the classroom with the hope that they can swim. The problem is that the students in front of you deserve no less of a rockstar teacher than any others. And, I hate to break it to you, but those students do not care if you're new. They don't care about the learning curve, your nerves, or all the other challenges that come with your first year of teaching. If you don't get them engaged and get them learning, they will eat you alive. And having a mindset of "getting by" or just "blending in" can pretty much guarantee a new teacher will not reach their true potential.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

I have a confession to make. I've become obsessed with Design Thinking. It's gotten to the point where I "Design Thinking" everything. How do I Design Thinking my lunch? How do I Design Thinking my classroom phone policy? How do I Design Thinking teaching?

Teaching? Yep. Let's do that.

What I love about Design Thinking is that it's flexible. There are teaching approaches out there that tell us what to do, but it makes more sense for every teacher to teach differently every year, because we each get different students.

Think about it. We don't treat all our friends and family the same. Our interactions with them are largely based on our experience of who they are and what makes them tick. Teaching is the same way. One size fits all approaches do not work.

The challenge is that, in the grand scheme of things, we only know our students for a short time. However, personalization of education is not a fad; it's a thing. So. let's use the Design Thinking Cycle (Empathy, Definition, Ideation, Prototyping, Testing) to improve Teaching, shall we?

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Posted by on in Leadership

 

Frustrated

Over the span of my career, I’ve worked with outstanding principals, very poor principals, and all of those in between. Leadership in a school makes a difference! Arne Duncan, the former U.S. Secretary of Education, said, “There are no good schools without good principals. It just doesn’t exist. And where you have great principals, good teachers come, and they stay, they work hard, and they grow.” With the wrong leader, good teachers leave, mediocre ones stay and gradually (or not so gradually) the school declines. The Wallace Foundation and other researchers have found that principal leadership impacts student learning and the impact is much larger than previously thought. Leaders shape a vision of academic success for all students based on high expectations, create a positive, safe climate, cultivate leadership in others, improve instruction, and have organizational management skills. Effective instructional leaders influence others to keep the focus on students and student learning. 

The task of creating and maintaining a high-quality school that students deserve is a large one. Effective principals leverage teacher leaders but ultimately acknowledge that the responsibility of the school climate rests with the principal. Less effective principals are unaware or dismissive of their overall responsibility as an instructional leader. They also often lack interpersonal intelligence skills and are unable to discern how they come across to people. As a result, teacher leaders are often left shaking their heads in disbelief about the actions and decisions of the principal. Gradually, the school climate begins to decline because of hiring choices and lack of leadership. The philosophy of the principal is to stay below the radar, and he does “just enough” to get by, “just enough” not to draw the attention of superiors, or “just enough” not to anger too many parents. Good teachers leave the school out of frustration. Student learning is at risk. 

How can teacher leaders, who for a variety of reasons can’t or choose not to leave the school, still grow as a leader, provide a quality education for the students that attend there, and influence others to keep the focus on student learning? What can teacher leaders do if they feel like they’re leading with their hands tied behind their back? 

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