Teacher Leadership on a Grand Scale

Before I was so tired, I was thinking a lot about teacher leadership. While I consider myself a teacher leader, I’m not always certain what that means.

In spite of that (because why let now knowing hold me back), I wrote a piece that was posted at te@chthought on this topic. My basic premise is that teacher leadership needs to go beyond a teacher’s school.

I want there to be teachers involved at all levels of decisions and policy. I want teachers to be writing about education for the general public. I want teachers to be sharing with other teachers what works in their classrooms. I want teachers to have a voice in education beyond their schools.

I believe this because teachers are the ones working with students everyday. When we lead, we lead with them in mind.

Somehow, in some way, teachers need to raise their voices and engage in the wider work of education because no one else knows children as well as we do.

2 replies on “Teacher Leadership on a Grand Scale”

  1. Tara says:

    I worked for the state department of education for six years—one of the few teachers in the agency. I wasn’t allowed to have much of a voice, even though that was my goal in working at that level. But I’ve met lots of teacher leaders over the years throughout all levels of the education system. They’re out there.

    We have to be careful, though, about how we talk about the system so that they feel just as supported as you want to in your role. In your last post, you wrote that “I’m tired of the federal government, my state government, and my county treating me and my students as if we are not working our tails off all day, everyday.” I agree that some policies are tiresome, but *I* was the state government for a bit. It didn’t mean that I wasn’t aware of what happens in a classroom. It didn’t mean I didn’t speak up for teachers and students. Being in a classroom is an incredibly difficult job, but it isn’t a whole lot easier to be in an education agency with your peers throwing rocks at you all the time.

    Now that I work for a school district again, things aren’t all that different. I hear teachers blame “the district” all the time for policy or practice they don’t like. I want them to realize that they are “the district.” They are also “the state” and the “the federal government.” They are part of the system of public education—and like it or not, everyone gets a voice. They make policy every day simply by choosing whether or not to take accurate attendance, for example. Teacher leadership for me is starting to take on this level of focus—helping others in my district understand how the pieces of the system fit together and how to leverage their points of view. I feel like I can make much more of a difference doing that.

    • jenorr says:

      Tara, thank you for this. You are right, I painted with much too broad a brush in my previous post. It’s a lot easier to just blame rather than think carefully about a complaint. You aren’t the first recently to remind me of this and, maybe, at some point I’ll actually remember it. Also, you’ve reminded me to assume positive intentions. I’m pretty good at that with the people around me, even when they’re driving me nuts. I can mostly remember that they’ve got our kids’ best interests at heart. I need to remember that about those a bit more removed from me. So, truly, thank you.

      On the downside, I’m a bit disheartened by your second sentence. If your voice wasn’t heard much when you were working in the midst of it all at the state level, is there really hope for teacher voices to be heard? It seems quite the uphill battle. I don’t believe it’s because our voices are being actively silenced (at least not by most) but because we are removed and it requires effort to hear us. How do we make it happen in spite of the challenges?

      We’ll solve this while we’re in Houston, right?

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