I wrote an epic post on Edutopia about transforming teacher leadership, especially for those just starting out. Here’s something you ought to know:
1. Know Your Stuff
My advice to any teacher leader, new or old: know what you’re talking about. Teachers respect leaders who have expertise and demonstrate confidence in that expertise. Having classroom experience goes a long way, but if our message doesn’t sound classroom-based or substantive, it won’t ring true to your colleagues. For instance, if you’re asked a question about the Common Core State Standards, you should know about the shifts in English, the practices in math or the integrations in science, even if you disagree with the standards. In other words, know your stuff. Nothing inspires confidence like reading up on important policy and having a good sense of how that applies to the classroom.
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I wrote a little something here as a thought on teacher leadership. Check it at the Collaborateurs:
That’s why I ought to start capitalizing the word “teacher” in the phrase “teacher leader.” The term “teacher leader” is so ubiquitous, you can’t help but wonder if people even know what it actually means, or at least have characteristics in mind when they think of TEACHER leadership.
We can knock out a few instances of what’s not teacher leadership. It’s not hiring a person at a teacher’s salary and giving them a position or a name. It’s not giving a person only a couple of years to teach before they’re walking around telling teachers what to do. It’s definitely not seeking to get famous for a few opinions.
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I’m usually a fan of teacher leadership, but sometimes, it makes me nervous. Observe:
I wonder if teachers who are deemed teacher leaders understand why so many of us put teacher in front of leader when speaking in front of teacher leadership.
This falls on some of our colleagues too, who jump right into the teacher leadership role and misunderstand what comes with the title i.e. the perception that, yes, they will lead as teachers. No teacher should have to feel reserved when it comes to their professional opinion, but fellow teachers do value expertise and approach when it comes to leadership, no matter who it comes from.
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Mr. Vilson, who had to ask …