By Teachers, For Teachers
With all the talk these days about teacher accountability, teacher evaluation, and teacher effectiveness, it seems as if one could deduce that teachers are finally getting recognized as central to the process of education. It’s not a minute too soon.
Now, our challenge is going to be channeling all this attention into positive outcomes for our profession.
Because, yes, teachers are central to the academic success of children. Teachers are experts that should be held accountable for their results. I think the missing piece here is that teachers should also be treated like key pieces of the puzzle, like professionals, like leaders within their school communities.
Rethinking School Leadership Roles
For too long, it felt as if teachers were seen as merely conduits of information, mechanisms for delivering a curriculum that was chosen by others thought to have more “expertise” (read: political power).
Our most effective teachers should not have to leave the classroom in order to have an influence over the larger school community. Rather, our most effective teachers should be offered a hybrid role. Meaning they get to stay in the classroom while also taking on a leadership role within the school.
Perhaps teachers would like to be in the classroom while also heading up a data team, or be in the classroom while also developing new opportunities to involve parents, or be in the classroom while also heading a committee on increasing children’s exposure to the arts....I think you get the point. Great teachers should stay in the classroom and also be given a chance to lead.
Making Hybrid Teacher Leader Roles Managable
Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! I know what you’re thinking. How can any effective teacher possibly handle more responsibility? After all, a favorite past time of the current Powers That Be is loading more and more and more on the teacher’s plate without thinking about taking anything away or considering the effectiveness of that pile of To Dos. Am I right?
When I talk about a hybrid role, I mean the whole enchilada. I mean that our most successful teachers should not only be given these opportunities but also the respect that comes along with a leadership position. Respect of their time, and the effort it takes to be truly successful in the classroom. This respect needs to directly translate into release time and/or additional pay like it would for any other person taking on additional professional responsibilities. We have to stop being the only ones who are given more and then asked to be okay with getting less because it’s “for the kids.”
Leaving the Blame Game Behind
If it was really “for the kids,” I think the Powers That Be would jump at the chance to empower teachers to be true leaders and mentors in their school communities. They would be thrilled with the idea of allowing teachers to model personal and professional growth for children, rather than show what it looks like to simply “do as you’re told.” They wouldn’t be content with merely pointing fingers at teachers while offering no viable, respectful or professionally acceptable solutions.
We’ve got to put an end to all this finger-pointing when the choices of various outside Powers That Be fail to yield results.
If society is hell-bent on pointing fingers, then let’s at least give teachers the power to make their own decisions. Let’s allow them to be true leaders at their schools so that when that finger is pointing at them, teachers can at least take comfort in knowing they had some control over their fate.
Do you have a different vision for a better plan in education? What leadership role would you want to take on? Share in the comments section!