- Be a leader who empowers your staff by helping each teacher see their strengths and potential.
- Opening up classrooms to walkthroughs gives small groups of teachers on grade and subject-level teams the opportunity to discover the cool things their colleagues are doing.
- Walkthroughs can have a theme around literacy, student engagement, standards-based grading, or anything else your school is currently focusing on.
I am one of those educators who, early on in my teaching career, started to “expand my horizons” by taking on leadership responsibilities. I was appointed the position of department chair for World Languages for the first time in 2006, about 4 years into my K-12 teaching journey in Colorado. From what I remember, I hadn’t asked for the extra responsibility. But as it turned out, in a department of 4-5 teachers, when the previous chair left, I was the second in seniority, thus the first choice to be department chair.
What I learned that year about leading a department and being a part of the Instructional Leadership Team at a large high school helped propel my desire to be a school leader. As a result, I looked for ways to gain experience towards that ultimate goal through teacher leadership responsibilities.Help your teachers branch out into professional speaking opportunities by asking if they would like to help plan or lead a building or district professional development that may be in the works. Click To Tweet
Be a Leader Who Empowers Staff: Include Staff in the Decision-Making Process
If you have a desire to gain instructional leadership experience by being more active in the decision-making process at your school, there are numerous other opportunities than just department or grade-level chair.
I have been a part of the attendance team at 3 different high schools, as well as helping form and get a parent partners coalition going at one of those. Parental involvement is a topic that I have always been very passionate about, especially at the secondary school level. Consequently, when a grant opportunity arose to help develop a coalition to bring parents in for monthly meetings and workshops, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it.
I write this blog post as a plea to school leaders to make sure you’re noticing the leadership potential in your staff.
Sometimes, teachers don’t know they would function well in a leadership role until they are inadvertently “thrown” into one, as I was during my first year as department chair. However, other staff members may be eager to lead or form new coalitions or committees, but some of those committees have perhaps been neglected or have met very sporadically during the course of the past year.
Another way to empower your staff is to help them branch out into professional speaking opportunities by asking if they would like to help plan or lead a building or district PD that may be in the works. Furthermore, if you recognize your teachers’ leadership potential or the desire to become more involved, help guide them by seeking and suggesting opportunities for them both to speak at and lead professional learning at conferences and district events.[scroll down to keep reading]
Be a Leader Who Empowers Staff: Open Classrooms to Walkthroughs
Another way to empower staff is by opening up master teachers’ classrooms to walkthroughs (which can be done virtually with a little creativity for schools that are still fully remote).
Opening up classrooms to walkthroughs gives small groups of teachers on grade and subject-level teams the opportunity to discover the cool things their colleagues are doing, what they have displayed on the walls, especially in terms of student work. And it gives them ideas they can take back to their classrooms. As a common practice, these walkthroughs can have a theme around literacy, student engagement, standards-based grading, or whatever your school is currently focusing on.
Teachers meet for a short time pre-walkthrough to discuss things they want to observe in the classroom and debrief post-walkthrough. The walkthroughs can be conducted with or without students present. Consequently, the master teacher whose classroom is used for the walkthrough gets a wonderful opportunity to showcase their work with students. They can highlight what they consider wins over the past months, and reflect with others what they have learned from challenges they’ve had in the past year.
In conclusion, whether or not you lead a school, are a teacher leader, or a teacher who would like to be in more of a leadership role, these suggestions will help lead you in the right direction to engage more outside the confines of the classroom or front office. It will help you discover the talent that is your colleague next door.
About Dana Goodier
Dr. Dana Goodier has 20 years of experience in education. She has taught World Languages and English and worked as a middle school administrator. She completed her doctorate degree (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership early 2020. For her dissertation, she researched reasons parents were opting their students out of high-stakes testing at middle schools and how that affected the district accreditation rating. She often speaks at conferences, providing educators with techniques to minimize off-task behavior and to increase time on task. She is the host of the “Out of the Trenches” podcast, which features educators who share their stories of resiliency. Follow her on Twitter @danagoodier and visit her website at: www.danagoodier.com