Teacher leadership has become a buzzword recently. All teachers lead activities and lessons in their classrooms. Many teachers also lead after school activities and clubs. Some teachers even serve as administrators, too. These days it’s more normal for teachers to have multiple roles in a school than just one.

So what exactly does teacher leadership mean, and more importantly, why should you care?

The NEA defines teacher leadership using 7 domains. This Character Resource Roundup focuses on three of those domains:

  • “Fostering a collaborative culture to support educator development and student learning”

  • “Promoting professional learning for continuous improvement”

  • “Advocating for student learning and the profession”

Fostering a Collaborative Culture

Often the topic of fostering a collaborative culture, especially when it comes to staff culture, is a discussion that is left for the principals and administrative teams. Teacher leaders can and should play an essential role in these efforts. Ask yourself what you are doing to foster a collaborative culture.

  • How do you welcome new staff?

  • How do you support your coworkers?

  • How do you collaborate amongst your grade level team and professional learning communities?

Read The Power of Teacher Networks, a book in which author, Ellen Meyers, “describes teacher networks as a force that breaks teachers out of isolation, improves their practice, advocates for students and schools, and keeps our best teachers teaching.”

Looking for something a little shorter? For a quick introduction read “Fostering Leadership Through Teacher Networks” by Sarah Burns. By strengthening your “Teacher Network” you will improve your teaching practice and hopefully make some new friends too!

Promoting Professional Learning

Now that you’ve connected with your colleagues, it’s time to go a step further. Educate each other and seek new ways to learn together.

Think you need to look outside of your school for experts in the field? Think again. Consider implementing a program where teachers can teach each other through lectures or even weekly courses. Read about the in-house professional development opportunities offered at Eastern Christian School Association (ECSA), a National District of Character. Educators at ECSA have the opportunity to share their skills and expertise by delivering EdTalks, education specific lectures similar to TedTalks.

Advocating for Student Learning & the Profession

Have you already begun transforming your own school? Ready to start sharing your best practices and strategies with a larger network? Eager toaffect education reform through policy? It’s time to start thinking about advocacy.

Not sure where to start? Take a look at the ASCD Advocacy page for tons of information. Their legislative agenda supports whole child education and is very aligned with Character.org’s mission.

Start at the district level. Sitting on local government committees can give you invaluable opportunities to tell your stories to other changemakers. In this short video, LeeAnn Stephens shares that serving on district committees in Minnesota helped her to establish her identity as an advocate.

The National PTA offers a very helpful Advocacy Toolkit to help you get started. This includes video clips offering advice for lobbying, tips on hosting site visits at your school for local representatives, best practices in advocating via social media and more.

Policymakers are eager to get input from teachers who are in the trenches, experiencing classroom life everyday. Share your thoughts and opinions with them!

There are a million different ways you can be a teacher leader. Decide what works best for you and get started!