Monday, May 18, 2015

Teacher Leadership and Teach to Lead

By Heather Jung

Beautiful woman writing a motivational concept on a blackboard - stock photo

Teachers, who are working with students every day, have the most important perspective on the issues surrounding education, but are often reticent to make their voices heard when it comes to educational policy issues. The egalitarian nature of the teaching profession can make teachers reluctant to take on leadership roles.  Although most teachers do not want to leave the classroom or become administrators, their integral knowledge of both the community and student learning needs is essential to promoting positive change in our schools.  There has been research, showing that actively involving teacher leaders is the best way to advance the vision of school and district communities.  Teachers who lead from the front of the classroom, rather than leaving it, have the strongest impact on student learning.  Helping teachers recognize that they are leaders, offering them opportunities to develop their leadership skills, and creating school cultures that honor teacher leadership can open up new avenues for providing support and resources to teachers and elevate the level of professionalism surrounding the field of education. Still, many teachers struggle to find their voice on policy issues and appropriate forums for expressing their ideas. Teach to Lead is one avenue that is available to teachers who want to advocate and promote policy change.

Teach to Lead is a joint venture between the U.S. Department of Education and the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards that was started in the spring of 2014.   Teach to Lead has created an online community called "Commit to Lead."   As a part of this community, teachers summit their ideas addressing current issues in education.  They then use social media and crowdsourcing to promote their concepts. Community members comment and vote on the initiatives that have been submitted.  Teachers whose proposals generate the most conversation are invited to attend various "Teach to Lead" summits where they can collaborate with other teacher leaders, principals, districts, supporter organizations, and state leaders to implement their policies.

Here is a link to a proposal that I have submitted to Commit to Lead: