Leadership development training is an important part of in-service training that school districts must provide for their teachers and principals. To be able to train a good teacher leader, school districts need to start at the beginning by finding out exactly what a teacher leader looks like.
Teachers who are leaders show confidence in themselves and their leadership skills. When asked to take on positions of leadership in their schools, they felt secure in their ability to handle the task. They seek out opportunities to fill leadership roles. They recognize that they would like to have more training on how to be a leader.
How can Teachers Show Leadership?
One of the places where teachers can show leadership is in the area of curriculum development. Often a particular department in a school, perhaps the math department, is told by the principle that a certain area of the math curriculum needs to be updated. Teachers who are leaders can volunteer to be the group leader, arrange and moderate the meetings, and prepare the final recommendations.
Another area to show leadership is in textbook selection. Particularly in the social studies department at a school, textbooks become outdated rather quickly. Also, teachers may not be happy with the current textbooks being used. A teacher who wants to show leadership can research textbooks and volunteer to lead the textbook selection committee. This will be an enormous workload added to the teacher’s already busy schedule, but it is an excellent way to show leadership.
Another time when teachers can show leadership is when their school wants to be accredited. Many organizations make detailed studies of schools and school systems to determine if they meet or exceed educational requirements. Preparing a school for a visit from an accreditation team is a daunting task. Any teacher who can take on the chairmanship of this study will certainly be shown to be a leader.
These are good, visible ways that teachers can show their leadership abilities. But most teachers say they would like more training on how to be a good leader. There are very few training programs available and teachers would like to have more access to this training.
One program that is available in Virginia is called Teacher as Change Agent. The AT&T Foundation funded this program to help ordinary everyday classroom teachers learn how to show leadership in their schools.
One way this program promotes teacher leadership is to show teachers how their membership in professional organizations can be used to make changes. When a teacher needs more data supporting their views, they have the extra data from the membership of an organization behind them.
Another way this program teaches leadership is to show teachers how to communicate with other teachers. There is always power in numbers. Building relationships with other teachers is an area where teachers would like to have more training.
Finally, teachers can take leadership roles when school administration changes. In a time of upheaval, many opportunities for leadership may present themselves.