February 28, 2019
We are all leaders. We are all teachers. When you are a leader, you are teaching. When you are a teacher, you are leading.
It is important that teachers see themselves as leaders and leaders see themselves as teachers.
Why? The core purpose of our organization is student learning and achievement. When leaders see themselves as teachers, they remain closer to the core purpose. When teachers see themselves as leaders, they contribute to the overall success of the organization.
Why? When we see ourselves as both teacher and leader, we add a richness to the learning that leads to greater results.
Why? When we all speak and contribute, the conversations are more robust.
Why? Research acknowledges how much more everyone learns when we are all teachers and we are all leaders [Davies et al, 2014].
Many believe ‘teacher leader’ is a position. But we believe teachers are leaders first with their students and then with their colleagues. Teachers have expertise that they share both formally and informally and that makes them leaders. Consider the teacher who invites a colleague into the classroom to observe the teaching and asks for feedback. When teachers see themselves as leaders, they begin to think systemically.
As you lead, you teach people. For example, in the past, the word Principal referred to Principal Teacher – the first teacher. If the leader is intentional about the leading, more people learn. Consider the principal who selects a strategy in a faculty meeting that is used to model and demonstrate a strategy that can later be used in classrooms. Another way to look at this is when leaders co-labour and co-learn alongside teachers. For example, one superintendent demonstrates co-constructing criteria with students while teachers watch, analyze, and later debrief together.
Some leaders do not see themselves as teachers because they haven’t registered a class for many years. Some teachers do not see themselves as leaders because they believe that they only have something to offer students.
Seeing oneself as only a leader or only a teacher is simply is not enough to ensure the success of our students. We are called to do more.
As you reflect on your current practice, in what ways do you meet the call to be both teacher and leader? How might you grow your practice to include the call to be both teacher and leader more often?
Anne, Sandra, and Brenda