This post, Dynamics of Teacher Leadership, follows on from the post “Shared Leadership in Schools” which I published on 22/6/13. In Dynamics of Teacher Leadership we will examine how to facilitate this kind of leadership in our schools.
We have already agreed that most schools today are too large to be effectively run by the principal and deputy principal alone. Therefore, for schools to improve, more teachers must become leaders. The formal hierarchy of administration, including senior teachers and department heads, needs this assistance.
Teacher leaders are teachers who possess great expertise in instructional leadership, curriculum development and design, administration, behaviour management, and any other domain deemed necessary for the improvement of a school. Many teacher leaders do not hold any position in the formal hierarchy of school administration but they are very influential among their colleagues. A few of them are reluctant but skillful leaders.
Principals must know their staff well. They need to identify the individuals on the staff who have the expertise mentioned above and give them further leadership training and opportunities to practise leadership.
The true teacher leader is someone whose influence is felt far beyond his or her classroom on a daily basis. Her scope of action is not limited to a classroom, department, or year group. It encompasses the best interests of the entire school and makes the principal’s job easier. These individuals have initiative and courage, and they are willing to take risks. They are never afraid to share ideas which will lead to improved teaching, learning, and school effectiveness. Principals should always support and encourage them in their efforts.
Principals and other administrators must mentor or coach these teacher leaders and delegate meaningful tasks to them, in order to accelerate their development and enrich their jobs. They should also benefit from in-house or external professional development courses and seminars. They have a vision for the school and they are highly motivated.
Let them mentor new teachers, develop programmes, projects and workshops and share best practices with their colleagues. Let them demonstrate leadership. The principal and other administrators can work closely with them and continue to shape their progress. Let them talk at staff meetings about their ideas for the improvement of teaching, learning and school effectiveness. The act of sharing their skills will increase instructional capacity in the school. Let them visit their colleagues’ classrooms to assist with lessons.
Principals should always be ready to support teacher leaders since, from time to time, they get problems from some members of staff who question their seniority, authority or motives. Some will feel that the teacher leader is favoured by the principal.
It is my view that an understanding of the dynamics of teacher leadership can enhance the delivery of education in any school.