Effective instructional leadership does not require the leader have a fancy degree or special credentialing. Often, the most influential leader in a school is the teacher next door.
Instructional leadership does require teacher leaders to be courageous and bold as they step out of the comfort zone of their own classroom.
In defining leadership, many sources include the characteristic of influence in their definition. Acquiring influence requires teacher leaders to make an impact both inside and out of the classroom. Today I’ll share twenty-three ways teachers can become teacher leaders in their school by building influence.
- Settings quarterly goals to grow your leadership
Starting with the end in mind is key in achieving goals. For teachers leaders, it is no different. Begin each quarter of the school year with goals and actions for building your leadership resume. Download my free 16 page teacher leader quarterly planner here.
- Volunteer to mentor a new teacher
Every new teacher needs a mentor, and mentoring is a foul-proof way of demonstrating leadership and affording yourself the opportunity to build influence. Be sure you are willing to dedicate at least one-hour each week to your mentee for the duration of the school year before agreeing to mentor.
- Set-up time saving systems to automate your teacher responsibilities
One challenge teacher leaders face is finding the time to dedicate to their leadership endeavors. Developing time-saving systems at the start of the school year will help ensure you have more time to spend on leadership tasks. Check out my 5 Day Teacher Productivity Challenge for tips on saving time in the classroom.
- Start building a positive relationship with your school principal
Having a positive relationship with your school principal will go a long way in being viewed and respected as a leader in your school. Although its not required, it will certainly expedite the process. Start by directly asking your school principal what you can do to help in the school.
- Research teacher conferences and plan ahead to attend
Teacher conferences offer time to connect, collaborate, and learn from thought leaders in the field of education. As a teacher leader, you will want to be availed to as many of these experiences each year as possible. Whether your school has a budget for sending teachers to conferences, or you have to fund a conference experience yourself, it is worth your time to start researching conferences of interest now and develop a strategy for ensuring your attendance.
- Volunteer to lead an initiative at your school
Schools are always embarking upon new and exciting initiatives driven by the latest research or changes in state or district policy. These initiatives present a plethora of opportunity for teacher leaders to join or lead a team that coordinates and monitors these new endeavors.
- Take a class or course offered through your district on leadership
Taking a course in leadership offered through your school or district will give you the opportunity to connect with other aspiring leaders and get on the radar of other instructional leaders. Commit to attending at least one leadership course or class during the school year.
- Read an instructional leadership book
Every educator knows that reading is a highly effective way to acquire knowledge and learn new skills. Reading books focused on leadership will give you a new perspective on ways to maximize your influence while in the classroom. If you’ve never read “Teacherpreneurs” it is a must read for every teacher leader.
- Listen to leadership podcasts
In addition to reading great books on leadership, listening to podcasts is a great way to consume content on leadership and trends in education. My favorite podcasts for teacher leaders are: “The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast” and “Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers”
- Subscribe to online publications
Chances are you check your email multiple times each day. You may as well leverage your inbox as a tool to help you grow as a teacher leader. By subscribing to publications like ASCD’s Smartbrief you will always be in the know of trends in education.
- Work closely with an instructional coach
Seasoned teacher leaders aren’t typically on the priority list to receive coaching from a school or district based instructional coach, which is why teacher leaders should seek their expertise. When working with a coach, ask questions about their responsibilities and experiences. Offer yourself and/or classroom to the coach to use as a resource. Doing so will build rapport with yourself and coach and will allow others to see you as a model teacher and leader.
- Don’t Gossip
By simply being aware of your daily conversation you’ll increasing find yourself modeling leadership. Be careful not to engage in mindless gossip and speak highly of other school leaders in the presence of your peers and they will quickly notice the leadership you are modeling.
- Volunteer in the front office
The front office is an area of the school that can always use a helping hand, especially during the time before school starts. By pitching in and helping the front office staff ensure the school day starts as smoothly as possible, you are not only being a leader to the staff, but are demonstrating the value of being a team player.
- Join the PTA
The Parent and Teacher Association is sometimes underrepresented by teachers in a school. Join the PTA to show your support and willingness to partner with parents to effect positive change in your school. Your school leaders will also appreciation you encouraging your teacher friends to join as well.
- Join a professional organization
Professionals in nearly every industry have professional organizations they join to connect and grow in their industry. Medical doctors join the American Medical Association and attorneys join the American Bar Association. By doing so they are declaring themselves as true professionals in their given industry. Teachers can make this same declaration by joining organizations like ASCD or content specific organization like NCTM.
- Watch one webinar each month
Webinars are a great alternative for in-person professional development, especially if your school/district does not have a course to suit your needs. Webinars are virtual broadcasts, including both video and audio that present information on a given topic. To find free webinars on a variety of topics for teacher leaders, visit Education Week or ASCD.
- Introduce a helpful app to your school staff
Technology is no doubt infiltrating classrooms at a rapid pace, however, not all teachers are tech savvy. Thankfully for teacher leaders, your peers are hungry to learn more about apps that save time and increase student engagement. Be a tech hero in your school by sharing a tremendously helpful education app. You might try Plickers or Remind if your school does not have widespread access to technology. Your teachers may also love Class Dojo to help with classroom management.
- Teach your students how to be good leaders in school
One of the best indicators of good instructional leadership is displayed through the teacher’s students. By teaching your students to importance or walking in a silent line to lunch (for younger students), always wearing their uniform appropriately, and using manners like please and thank-you in your classroom, your students will shine a positive light on the leadership you display.
- Share resources frequently with your grade level or content team of teachers
The workload teachers’ carry seems to increase with every year. Sharing resources with your teaching team will save them time and they will be appreciative of you subtly leading them to the best resources available.
- Dress professionally
Dressing professionally will go a long way in modeling how a true leader carries themselves. While a full suit and high healed shoes is not practical for most teaching assignments, neat, well-fitted, and overall professional looking attire will set you apart as a leader.
- Organize your personal life
Dedicate time on the evenings and weekends to keep your personal life organized. By taking care of tasks like meal planning, online shopping, and scheduling appointments during your off time, you have more time for leadership tasks during the school day.
- Connect with other teacher leaders online
The online world is full teacher leaders yearning to connect with others. Through blogging and specialized Facebook groups, teacher leaders are connecting like never before. Browse online and make a personal connection with a teacher leader that resonates with you.
- Hire a coach
If you’ve never considered hiring a career coach, you are like most teachers. Now is as good a time as any to get professional assistance in mapping our your goals as an instructional leader. Learn how you can work with me to achieve your professional goals as a teacher here: http://www.edupreneurtoday.com/work-with-me/
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The Teacher Leadership planner is a quarterly planner designed especially for teacher leaders to track their leadership tasks. Enter your information for a free copy.