This past May, I attended the Teach to Lead Summit (TTLSummit) in Columbus, Ohio. This initiative was announced in 2014 by former secretary of education Arne Duncan during the National Board on Professional Teaching Standards’ Teaching and Learning Conference. Teach to Lead is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and ASCD, with more than 90 supporters from various educational organizations.
When I received an email stating that the 13th Teach to Lead Summit was going to be in Columbus, Ohio, I knew that I wanted to be involved. Since I was a former participant, I assisted in evaluating the idea submissions, and served as a critical friend for the Oxford City Schools team. On Friday, the first night, the Teach to Lead team hosted a networking event. The next day, the participants received professional development on the components of a logic model. As a critical friend, I assisted the team in developing their idea and completing the logic model through thought-provoking questions. On the last day, the teams finalized their logic models and received feedback from other teams in a gallery walk.
My commitment to teacher leadership has spanned over a decade. I am former instructional coach who enjoyed coaching and providing professional development for teachers. That experience, along with the Institute on the Educational Leadership’s Education Policy Fellowship Program participation, solidified my mission to amplify teacher voice. There are teachers that spend their whole career in the classroom, and I knew that this was not going to be me. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy teaching. The fire that ignites when I pass knowledge on to other others is indescribable. However, I felt that classroom walls limited my leadership growth. In 2014, I decided to launch CHARP EDucation Consulting because I wanted the flexibility to speak at conferences, serve on state educational committees, and shape education policies without interfering with my students’ education.
I also had to remind myself that my beginning was not my ending, and not to feel guilty about wanting to leave the classroom. I am still having a positive impact in education, but in a different way. It is the most gratifying feeling to provide two-generational family and community engagement workshops. I believe that parents are their children’s first teachers. My goal is to assist in removing barriers for parents that may impede them in achieving social mobility.
Teachers are the ones in the trenches, and it is extremely important for their voices to be heard. Those that are interested in becoming teacher leaders can lead from within the classroom. True progression does not exist without shared leadership. At the Teach to Lead Summit, the Oxford City Schools team consisted of three high school teachers, a principal, and a district administrator. Throughout the summit, I observed the team members’ mutual respect and the value they held for each other’s opinions. This was a team that other districts should emulate.
Teacher leaders do not typically consider themselves to be leaders but are highly respected by their peers. They are always available for support, and serve as role models for both students and teachers. Furthermore, they are risk takers, and instrumental in program design and professional development.
In Harrison and Killion’s Ten Roles for Teacher Leaders article, they listed ten leadership roles for those teachers who are not interested in leaving the classroom:
Catalyst for change
Job satisfaction is the key to having a successful career. Ensure that you are doing something that is feeding you mentally, emotionally, and professionally. My plate is almost full. For the past three years, I have had opportunities to impact education reform on a macro level.
Divisiveness amongst teachers, administrators, and legislators is having a negative impact on our students. Teacher leadership is more important today than ever, especially because teachers do not feel that they have autonomy over their classrooms. If you are as passionate as I am about transforming education and promoting collaboration over competition, then become a teacher leader.
Click on this link to learn more about the Teach to Lead initiative.