To be a good teacher, you must also be a good leader. Every day, you lead your students toward enhanced knowledge and skill – and ultimately, toward success. Teachers often share traits with leaders in other fields: They must be excellent communicators, they must have courage and integrity, they must be humble in their needs and wants, and they must be impeccable at planning and organization. Yet, many teachers rarely feel like leaders; in fact, many become frustrated by their notable lack of power and influence.
Though teachers are inherently leaders, they must be proactive if they want to maximize their effect on students and fellow staff. Here are a few ways you can gain more authority and create beneficial change in your schools and school systems:
1. Mentor New Teachers
You remember what it was like to lead your first classroom: terrifying. No longer an assistant teacher, for the first time instructing an entire class on your own, you felt lost and nervous, if not downright afraid. Though your education in education furnished you with the skills you needed to teach, nothing could prepare you for the actual experience of teaching.
New teachers continue to feel this way, but you can bolster their confidence and improve their technique by becoming a teacher mentor. As a more experienced educator, you are qualified to provide support to novice teachers in your school or district. By doing so, you establish yourself as a role model, an advisor and a leader in your area.
2. Provide Resources to Other Teachers
Because education is often under-funded, teachers typically scramble to obtain the resources they need to serve their classes. You can help your colleagues by becoming a resource provider, freely sharing your tools and supplies to facilitate education throughout your school. This enhances your leadership because it encourages those around you to turn to you for aid.
3. Help Other Teachers Implement New Strategies
Sometimes called instructional specialists, these teacher-leaders guide fellow teachers toward more effective forms of instruction. Often, the easiest way to teach is not the best for students, and thanks to research on education, better methods are developed every year for communicating different types of information to students. You can facilitate the uptake of the latest and greatest instructional strategies amongst your colleagues.
To prepare for this role, you might consider earning an online master’s in education. Advanced education will give you the necessary experience to study research-based strategies, identifying their strengths and weaknesses to apply them to your classes. With enhanced credentials and a focus on improving student outcomes, you will quickly become a teacher-leader at your institution.
4. Develop Enhanced Curricula Standards
Most classrooms are led by a strict curriculum as much as by instructors. Therefore, it is important that curricula are ideal for students, consistent throughout a school and assessed often to ensure high quality. You can become a curriculum specialist to help analyze the efficacy of established curricula. In doing so, you will work with teachers and other education professionals to strengthen existing standards or develop new ones, leading your school or district to better outcomes.
5. Move into School Administration
Though teachers can move into more prestigious schools and classrooms or increase their pay with seniority, teaching is generally considered a dead-end job. If you aspire to a position with great authority and influence, you should transition from teaching into school administration. By becoming an administrator, you will no longer be responsible for a single classroom or a handful of students; every class and the entire student body will be affected by your decisions. This means you can more efficiently lead your school in the direction you believe to be best.
6. Use Data to Enhance Instruction
Big Data is helping dozens of industries refine their tactics and achieve more ideal outcomes – and it can do the same for education. Educators have access to great amounts of data, especially if they have managed the same courses and in the same school systems for several years. By analyzing this data to identify trends, you can ensure your students and fellow staff are using the most effective techniques for learning.
7. Drive Change in the Education System
It’s easy to see that the American education system is in desperate need of reform, and teachers might be the best originators of that change. By assuming leadership in your classroom, school and district, you can compel your school system to make changes that benefit teachers and students alike. Because today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders, you should be a leader in your sphere today.