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Exploring the Benefits of Teacher Leadership Development Programs



Benefits of Teacher Leadership Development Programs

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Teachers who participate in leadership development programs may be viewed by principals as more active leaders even though they have no system-conferred title or authority. These teachers significantly impact students and their colleagues in ways that can be more effective than those of a positional leader.

One example of a program that provides teacher leaders with professional development, mentoring and coaching, and individualized leadership support after graduation.

Empower Teachers to Lead

Teacher leaders are highly motivated to push their profession, communities, and PreK-12 schools toward excellence. They seek out problems to solve and are enthusiastic adopters of positive change. These educators use a variety of formal and informal channels to exert leadership:

  • Serving as union delegates, department chairs, and mentors
  • Participating in school-based committees
  • Coordinating professional learning opportunities
  • Addressing policy issues
  • Contributing to research

The research suggests that teacher leadership has a positive impact on student achievement. Interestingly, the effect size range for different teacher leadership dimensions is broad. This may be because only four studies have addressed “improving outreach and collaboration with families and communities.” This dimension might need further investigation to determine its full impact on student achievement. Providing teachers with ample opportunities to participate in teacher leadership activities encourages them to take on projects that fit their comfort levels, strengths, and skills. This approach reduces the risk of burnout and creates a team of teachers with diverse expertise, talent, and abilities.

Delegate Tasks

Teachers participating in a teacher leadership development program are trained to take on various leadership roles that can help their peers and the whole school community. These roles include implementing district and school initiatives such as curriculum development and new-hire mentoring programs.

Another role that many teacher leaders assume is acting as a mentor to newly hired teachers or established teachers who are seeking professional growth opportunities. This can help these teachers acclimate to their new schools, cultures, and curriculums and help them develop relationships with other educators within the community.

Delegating work is best done when the task fits into your “zone of mastery.” The duties should be essential and urgent, and you must have ample time to complete them promptly. It’s also a good idea to give your team members specific instructions and training to help them perform well in these circumstances. For example, you should specify exactly what steps to take and who is responsible for completing each degree.

Create a Socially-Relevant Curriculum

When teachers have the time and space to explore their leadership potential, they are more likely to find ways to engage students. They also are more able to create classroom environments that are culturally relevant and supportive of student success.

These changes may stem from a school-wide initiative or be specific to their grade level or subject area, for example, using inquiry-based learning or supporting student writing. Teacher leaders know the importance of having colleagues on board with any strategy to improve the education system, so they seek out opportunities for collaboration and actively work to build a culture that supports them.

Some offer an online teacher leader program incorporating a unique synchronous and asynchronous learning blend. The curriculum includes high-quality videos, ‘best practice’ leadership literature, and experiential activities. Participants can access the content 24/7 via our state-of-the-art learning management system, allowing them to work independently.

Build a Sense of Community

Teacher leadership is a collaborative process and requires support from colleagues. Providing resources that facilitate community, such as time and space, is essential to developing a culture where teachers are comfortable sharing ideas, asking for help, and being vulnerable with their peers.

This ties back to the idea of creating a safe environment for risk-taking. Successful teacher leaders are explorers willing to try new initiatives and discover the unseen “potholes” in new programs. They work together to address these problems and bring new energy into the school culture.

They also recognize that effective change must come from a team-based approach, and they seek to include the voices of their fellow teachers and students. This is key to establishing a community of trust and buy-in for the changes they seek to implement. The result is a more engaged school community that supports student learning and achievement. This benefits not only the teachers but the entire school as a whole.

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