Sunday, February 15, 2015

12 characteristics that make you a teacher-leader

As a principal, it is important for me to remember that the success we experience in our school is thanks to the efforts of teachers and students, along with all the others who contribute to the life of a school. When I use the word success, I use it in the sense that we are growing and learning as a school and changing in ways that allow our students to have more meaningful experiences, ones that will better prepare them for their future.

I'm extremely blessed to work with teachers who desire what's best for students and actively challenge the status quo and look for opportunities to improve themselves, their classrooms, and our school overall. It's important to recognize that teachers are leaders too. They make an impact on the learning experience of their own students, but they also influence the culture and climate of a building.

The actions of teacher-leaders have impact beyond their classroom. They influence the whole school and likely have influence far beyond the school. A teacher-leader has a legacy of helping others and making the teaching profession stronger overall.

I spent some time thinking about the qualities of teacher-leaders. Maybe you will think of others to add to my list.

1. Teacher-leaders are teaching-geeks. They love to discuss pedagogy and how they can improve the learning for their students.

2. Teacher-leaders are lead learners. They seek out opportunities for professional learning from a variety of sources such as edcamps, graduate courses, or through a Twitter PLN. As principal, I consider myself a lead learners, but all of our teachers should be lead learners too.

3. Teacher-leaders seek out critical feedback. They want to know ways they can improve, and they seek out this information. We may not enjoy critical feedback, but it's necessary information for us to improve. Leaders use negative feedback to get better.

4. Teacher-leaders have a voice. In order to influence others, teacher-leaders are socially connected and respected. Their peers see them as walking-the-walk and talking-the-talk. They build relationships and friendships with their colleagues.

5. Teacher-leaders champion the work. They infuse energy into conversations about change and growth. They aren't afraid to take on new challenges or have difficult conversations.

6. Teacher-leaders ask questions. They don't automatically go along with every idea that is presented, whether from administration, central office, or the state department. But they ask questions that will create dialogue and cause thinking. They don't ask questions to tear down, destroy, or self-protect. There is a big difference!

7. Teacher-leaders serve others. They seek ways to help other teachers succeed and often put their own needs second to the needs of their students and their fellow teachers.

8. Teacher-leaders are positive. Even during negative situations, teachers who stay positive will have the greatest positive impact. It's easy to stay positive when things are going well. Leaders stay positive when it's rough.

9. Teacher-leaders stand for what's right. If something is happening in a school that is harmful to students or to learning, they will use their influence to work against the harmful action. They will even stand against administrators or fellow teachers if needed, but they will always do it in a way that is respectful and preserves dignity.

10. Teacher-leaders have purpose. They view their work as meaningful and want to be part of something bigger than themselves. As a result, school communities are made stronger by their commitment to the team.

11. Teacher-leaders take time to reflect. They think carefully about the work they do and the collective work of the school. What worked well and what are opportunities for improvement?

12. Teacher-leaders embrace change. They aren't stuck in any way of thinking but are open to listen and consider new ideas. They will try new things and share with others the results of these new possibilities. They are innovators and have a spirit of adventure.

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