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Recognizing True Teacher Leadership

On many campuses, administrators provide de facto leadership, but teachers also fill important leadership roles. Teacher leadership is important for campuses because new teachers need senior colleagues they can look to for guidance — sometimes new teachers can learn more from their colleagues than they can from their administrators.

Leadership roles for teachers

Teachers can fill a variety of campus leadership roles: team leader, content leader, grade-level leader or new-teacher mentor. These roles rarely come with "official" training; rather, administrations recognize experienced teachers for their leadership and commitment to their fields or subjects. These teachers step naturally into teacher leadership, which empowers them to help influence campus policies like modifying curriculum or improving learning environments. These leaders bring not only their own but also their colleagues’ concerns to the administration, and they collaborate to develop solutions for campus problems.

Many teachers looking to advance their careers assume leadership roles to expand their resumes and gain leadership experience; these roles complement a master’s degree program for teachers. Many teacher leaders find that earning a master’s degree in counseling or leadership prepares them for the next step in their careers.

What other teachers want from teacher leaders

Teachers come to teacher-leaders with both curricular questions and student issues, and they look for specific characteristics in their leaders. Some teachers want proactive leaders who can delegate tasks without micromanaging. Other teachers look for a strong work ethic. It is in a teacher leader’s best interest not only to enforce rules equitably but also to follow those same rules themselves.

Experience is sometimes the only way to learn certain aspects of teaching. A teacher leader on your team or in your department can be a great resource because he or she has likely already overcome the challenges you are facing. They may also be able to provide management strategies to newer teachers who need ideas for the classroom.

Leadership can be difficult. Not only are you responsible for other teachers, you may also be their liaison with the administration — all while teaching your own classes and managing your own classrooms. Despite the extra work, however, teacher leadership can be a great way to advance your career. Earning a master’s degree for teachers is straightforward way to gain the knowledge you need for this important next step.

Learn more about the UWF online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership Certification program.


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