Week 8 #slowchatED Reflection: Teacher Leadership

Jumping off of Eric Demore‘s week 7 topic, curiosity, week 8 was borne out of my inquisitive spirit. I am oddly fascinated with teacher leadership.  Two of my favorite teachers in elementary school were principals by the time I graduated high school, and two of my favorite high school teachers become principals by the time I graduated college. Meanwhile, in the district where I’ve taught, the opposite was apparently happening: as a new teacher, I was regaled with what I can only call horror stories from past students of some of the leaders in my county. I’ve worked long enough to have my own horror stories even. I have worked with amazing teachers who are legally qualified to be administrators but shudder at the thought of leaving the classroom.

Let’s just say I have a bunch of questions about teacher leadership, okay?

I promise question one wasn’t intended to be a modified typical edchat beginning – you know, the kind explicitly listed in David Theriault’s Things That Suck about Twitter Chats:

No, it had a purpose. I wanted to know a few things: how do we describe our leadership roles? Are we a list of titles? Do men and women describe their roles differently? Do teachers recognize teaching as a leadership role itself? How many synonyms do we have for the same job? Obviously if I asked any of those questions first, I would’ve gotten conscious answers. I wanted to just get your answers and make some observations for myself.

As far as leadership roles go, some described their jobs, some gave titles. An equal number of men and women responded, and the responses were mostly titles, but many leaders shared their role, what actually gets accomplished. There were a few teachers whose only title was “Teacher,” and I surprised myself by being one of them (sort of). As far as synonyms go, we have a lot of words for the same jobs. I even learned that California’s mentors have their own acronym:

BTSA?

Suffice to say, #slowchated is a pretty impressive group of people with a lot of jobs. So with our myriad of experiences, surely we can solve all of education’s ills, right?

Teacher leadership is sort of a beast. Everyone has different expectations for leaders, and that’s including the leader himself/herself, which leads to this problem:

While each leadership role comes with its own expectations and goals, many answers pointed to some universal truths about leadership:

 Randa Hendricks shared this image that pretty much sums up all leadership ideologies: boss v leader

And then there’s this one from B. Buck:

true leaders (Comma splice aside, it’s a good point.)

Eric Saibel‘s answers reflect these ideals:

A3: Admin must be willing to empower TLs as true leaders & decision-makers IF we believe in flattening our organizations. #slowchatED — Eric Saibel (@ecsaibel) March 19, 2014

Also, my  love for Jodie Morgenson was affirmed when she shared this video, essentially about buy-in:

The right attitude is a requirement too:

Jeffrey Farley notes that we are wasting time looking for others to empower us; we just need to act like professionals. (That entire conversation is here and worth your time.)

We also need to quit fearing possibilities:

And, most importantly, leaders must recognize fallibility:

Good, strong leaders have specific internal qualities. How do we nurture them? We discussed what it would take to make certain leadership roles more doable or appealing, such as increased time or pay, but beyond making leadership opportunities less stressful and more attractive, how do we attract and support the types of leaders who delegate well, lead without ego, and sustain personal growth? These are the questions I am left with. (Thanks, Eric!)

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