Am I a teacher leader?
This is a question I asked myself when I was about 5 years into my teaching career, and to be honest, the answer then was, “Nope…not so much.”
At that point, I knew I was a pretty good teacher. Some might have even argued that I was great. But, whatever so-called ‘greatness’ I actually did encompass back then pretty much remained within the four walls of my classroom.
While I believe that EVERY teacher is a leader, I didn’t consider myself a ‘teacher leader’ because I wasn’t yet making an intentional effort to drive this dynamic profession forward. In fact, the mere thought of doing so intimidated me. I was still young(ish). I wasn’t very outspoken. And, I DREADED being in front of groups of adults. In my mind, how could I be a teacher leader if I didn’t feel comfortable leading in that way?
It was then that I was transferred to another school due to allocations. I viewed this move as the perfect opportunity to start a new chapter in my career.
I began taking on new roles and responsibilities that pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone. I shared. I supported. I served. I coached. I challenged. I learned. I grew. I found my voice. And, lo and behold, I realized that I could lead and empower others, in a variety of ways!
So, my question for you is, are you a teacher leader? If you’re still relatively new, store these questions in a mental file to revisit later. Your sole focus should probably be on your students and their parents. However, if you’re an experienced, masterful, and passionate teacher, please reflect. We need teachers like you to leverage your impact for the greater good of education!
- Do I positively contribute to my school culture and climate?
- Do I seek unique ways to share my knowledge and expertise with others?
- Am I an active participate in local, state, and/or nation-wide educational organizations?
- Do I work with administrative leaders to improve school practices?
- Do I facilitate professional learning activities?
- Am I an effective mentor?
- Do I lead after-school activities for students?
- Am I a life-long learner who strives to both implement and promote best practices for ALL children?
- Do I keep my classroom door ‘open’ and welcome others to observe my teaching?
- Do I keep abreast with educational policies and advocate for students and the profession as a whole?
- Do I seek funding for materials or special projects via grant writing?
- Do I collaborate with community members and groups to elevate learning?
- Do I work well in a team and seek input from every member?
- Do I find ways to celebrate others?
- Am I innovative?
- Do I inspire?
- Am I eager to serve?
- Do I always strive to keep students’ best interests in mind?
As you can see, teacher leadership comes in many ways, shapes, and forms. And truly, it’s more of a mindset than a list of extras.
Teacher leaders continuously think about how to expand their influence in education to ultimately benefit students both locally and globally. If teachers don’t pave the way, who will?
Please share any insights you have about teacher leadership below. Thanks, everyone!