Teacher leadership: A new paradigm for effective teaching and learning
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I always wondered why most of the Cell and Sector leaders were acting teachers or retired teachers. Well; not anymore. Teachers train the leaders we have all over the world and, therefore, are the powerhouse towards building competent leaders and a vibrant working sector for sustainable development.
The teacher leadership concept has been a subject of study for so many years since the late 60’s when the aspect of teaching and its significance had fully entrenched the minds of academicians at the time.
In their famous study, ‘The gateway to the profession’ (Glodhaber, 2002 and Harris, 2004) advance that teacher leadership is at the epic of students and peer performance and they explain that once the schools run short of straight leadership, their performance and that of the students will be compromised.
In this regard therefore, taking into serious considerations improving the aspect of teacher leadership is key, as it means improvement in the schools’ performance, student’s performance as well as teacher professionalism.
It is an influential strategy for promoting effective, collaborative teaching practices in schools that will eventually lead to increased student achievement, improved decision making at the school and district level and national level as well as creating a dynamic teaching profession for the generations to come.
A well-trained teacher will have the ability to contribute to school improvement by arousing the motivation of the students, teachers and non-teaching staff.
Teacher leadership requires teachers to build- up on their capacity for effective leadership and management. Besides manifesting leadership skills for effective class management, the teachers are also leaders beyond the confines of the class but they go out there to help in other disciplines.
Teacher leaders view their profession as continuously changing rather than routine and habitual, they are always willing to support each others for as long as it is purposefully needed to ensure the successful implementation of all the practices that are geared towards improving and adding value to the teaching profession. Teachers will always seek to understand the causes of resistance to change and respond appropriately to individual needs and concerns.
For every effective teacher leader, the acknowledgement of better performing teachers will add impetus in others to work hard and improve the teaching and learning process.
Teachers always view students as future leaders who will be defined by the uncompromising commitment to their work. Therefore teachers accept increasing student success as the core mission and moral purpose of their work. Teacher leaders maintain an unwavering focus on improving student learning by diligently supporting peers to increase the effectiveness of their professional practices.
Teacher leadership concepts therefore mean that effective learning and child nurturance is not only for the teachers, but rather, every adult contributes productively to student learning. All parties should fully respect and recognize each other’s contributions towards education and learning, whether directly or indirectly.
Teacher leaders value an equity-based approach to fully support learning and the resources that ensure all staff and students achieve their utmost potential. Their transferable stance provides the motivation and energy needed to engage others in the difficult work of teaching.
The profession of teaching is built primarily on the aspect of building network and togetherness in not only multi-culture number of students that passes through their hands on a daily basis, but also on teachers themselves. It is for that reason therefore that teacher leadership succeeds well in schools where teachers and administrators Share a sense of collective responsibility for the learning of every student.
Learning being a gradual process, a good teacher understands that collaborating with other teachers helps improve their potential in the profession. All members of staff continuously learn together and are given the opportune to apply what they learn to their work and this results into good school and student’s performance because all assumed responsibilities are executed fully.
Weiss glass (1998) noted that when teachers lead, take responsibility for what matters most to them and bring out the best from both the learners and even those they stay together the most. Teacher leadership does not only end in the premises of the class; it instead goes beyond the school environment and by so doing they share a sharp responsibility for equitable opportunities for the success of their school, students, peers, and communities where the school is located.
Once teacher leadership takes its turn and is fully embraced by all education policy makers, it will eventually create more opportunities for more teachers to advance in their careers, facilitate school improvement as well as improving professional learning for teachers and proper view of the student academic and social success.
The writer is a PhD student of Comparative Education at Beijing Normal University