Developing teacher-leaders will take time, but in the long run, schools benefit from the additional support and increased sense of community through a teacher-leader.

How to reimagine teacher leadership

Developing teacher-leaders will take time, but in the long run, schools benefit from the additional support and increased sense of community

Key points:

  • Teacher-leaders are an integral–but under-utilized–part of a school
  • School leaders can secure teacher buy-in around new initiatives through teacher-leaders

The typical leadership structure in a school is quite rigid, with administrators and teachers filling their roles separately. In this model, teacher skills are only utilized inside of the classroom, leaving teacher leadership potential on the table.

Because this is true in almost any school building, it is time for administrators to reimagine teacher leader roles and leverage teacher leadership, specifically at the grade level or in content teams. Many schools have positions such as “Lead Teacher” or “Content Team Leader,” which is a great starting point. The next step is transforming these established positions, or creating similar models, and implementing them across your school. This should lead to actionable steps taken by these teacher-leaders, and the loosening of the reins by administrators.

Leading Grade Level Initiatives

Rapport and community built at the middle leadership level is more responsive to student interests and needs. The foundation of any successful school is a strong school community where teachers and students can build a solid relationship over the course of the year. Quite often, this is artificially imagined by district experts as X or Y initiative in each classroom. Instead, the model needs to move to a teacher determined and led initiative.

A top-down community building set up by administration might be a pep rally for all grades. Not an unpopular choice, as it builds rapport between the students and the school. Given more time and thought, that same space can instead be used to build rapport between students and teachers.  A teacher leader would converse with their team to determine a community building activity that might be a better fit for their students. This might include a trust building activity outside, a teacher vs. student basketball game, or a community service project. Similarly, the activity can more accurately reflect student interest and can be an opportunity to be culturally responsive to the school community. The activity itself doesn’t matter, but rather the student and teacher’s voice.

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