There's lots of talk about teacher leadership these days. Many, prompted by research about dynamic teaching/learning organizations, are looking for ways to flatten the hierarchies in schools to foster a shared leadership culture--a culture that promotes "autonomy, mastery, and purpose" as supported by Daniel Pink in his book, Drive.
Many teachers throughout the country are participating in teacher leadership programs and initiatives to build skill and competency in this regard. I am apart of the NEA/MTA/CTQ/NBPTS Teacher Leadership Initiative. It has been a powerful year-long leadership skill building program that includes 400 educators from all over the country.
Now I'm wondering how teaching/learning organizations can begin to make teacher leadership a reality in schools. I have the following suggestions:
Open, Transparent, Regular Communication Streams
Keep all educators in the loop of important information related to the teaching/learning organization in timely, accessible ways.
Include Educators in All Meetings and Conferences
Invite educators to attend administrative meetings, school committee meetings, and policy meeting. Also take an educator with you when you attend a conference. Elicit the educators' ideas and thoughts during these meetings. This kind of two-way share of information will foster greater team and collaborative ideas.
Delegate and Provide Leadership Opportunities
Give educators the time to lead initiatives.
Coach and Support Leadership Skills
Find ways to foster greater leadership among all staff. Coach good skills in this regard. Converse about priorities and protocols.
Invite the voices of many educators, not just one group. The diversity of ideas will build a stronger system.
Problem Solve with Educators
Good problem solving profits from good process and the voices of all involved.
Finding ways to coach and support teacher leadership in schools will result in greater mentoring and support of students' leadership schools as well. As students, educators, and leaders work with one another to foster greater leadership by all, schools will grow with strength and promise.