For far too long some of the most important people in the school improvement process have been left out of the conversation. Perhaps left out is the wrong term. After all, teachers have been and are told repeatedly that they need to improve and improve everything. They need to improve their teaching, planning, questioning, assessments, and most of all improve student learning. However, it seems to me that teachers are often secondary conversationalist when it comes to school improvement. School improvement begins and ends with a great teacher. That’s why I believe we must do a better job of valuing and utilizing teacher leadership! .
With an ever growing complex accountability system, we need teacher leadership like never before. We ought to be developing teacher leaders in every capacity. Many teachers desire to lead, but not from the principal’s office. They’re perfectly happy leading their peers in data analysis, improved instructional strategies, in creating rigorous assessments, and desire to do so right from their classrooms. But so often when we begin the problem solving process, teachers are not at the table. Formal or informal, we have a tendency to fill the table with administrators and coaches first, bringing teachers in as secondary folks to help problem solve. If school improvement begins and ends with the teacher’s execution of agreed upon strategies and interventions, shouldn’t teachers be seated at the problem solving table first?
We must create deliberate and intentional opportunities for teachers to lead in our schools. We must capitalize on the strengths and talents of all. School improvement does not rests on the shoulders of the principal alone. It’s a banner we all must carry. My challenge to principals as we embark on a new school year is to answer this question: How are you creating opportunities for teachers to lead?
No one should have to leave the classroom to lead if that is not their heart’s desire. Allow teachers to lead from where they are and practice collective effort in its purest form. Principals don’t have to do the work of school improvement alone. When teachers are provided the opportunity to lead, collective effectiveness has the potential to significantly impact student achievement. Our work is too grand for one and too complex for a few. School improvement takes all of us. So put some extra chairs at the table and invite your teacher leaders to sit down and problem solve with you. You might just find that the road to creating your very best school is clearer than you thought.
With respect for teachers everywhere, let them lead!
Until next time-be you, be true, be a hope builder!