The underlying test behind leadership in any organization is whether it does mobilize people’s commitment into channeling their energy towards actions that can improve the current situation. It is a collective mobilization. According to Ackerman (2007), teacher leadership involves encouraging colleagues to change and do things that they would not ordinarily think about without a leader’s influence. However, Michalak (2012) contrasts the definition by asserting that teacher leadership is a collective leadership whereby teachers develop skills and expertise through working together as partners. Essentially, teacher leadership refers to the exercise of leadership by teachers irrespective of their designation or position. It is concerned with various forms of empowerment. Teacher leadership is a form of agency and not a formal role or responsibility. A teacher leader leads beyond the classroom, contributes and identifies with a community of other teachers and is influential on matters that improve educational practice.
Various studies represent the different levels of understanding on the roles that a teacher leader plays in his or her individual capacity. Hirsch (2004) indicates that in both formal and informal setting, teachers engage in important leadership functions. Therefore, as a teacher leader, I have the potential to lead my organization through my individual capacity. Teacher leaders use evidence and data in decision making which ensures that there exists an attractive and healthy working environment. They are active planners by the way they handle the curriculum and understand content standards. It is from this understanding that they are able to provide instructional resources. Researchers have proven that teachers who take part in decision-making contribute to school effectiveness and improvement in student performance. I would make quality decisions so as to impact the performance of my colleagues in the organization (Crowther, 2002).
Teacher leaders marshal resources after recognizing an opportunity. They are able to make organizational diagnoses through sharing their knowledge and expertise with others. Hirsch asserts that when collective capabilities of teachers are integrated into managing various tasks, their commitment to their profession strengthens. Therefore, as a teacher leader I would lead my organization effectively from an individual capacity by sustaining the commitment of my colleagues through efficient management of resources. Through the sheer determination in becoming a learning facilitator, I would mentor and serve as a role model to them through sound instructions, procedures and practices that would influence change in my organization.
The leadership principle that I would rely on as a teacher leader in my organization is having an open mind. Teacher leadership is exercised in a setting where there are varying views and opinions. Effective leaders should exercise an indirect but powerful influence on the organization’s effectiveness. Leadership relies heavily on relationships and connections among individuals within an organization. The principle of open-mindedness allows the creation of perfect conditions where people work together and learn from each other. They are able to refine meaning which leads to a shared purpose. It is in these setting that leadership is much stronger and a driver for change and improvement. Having an open mind shows that leadership is a shared and collective endeavor that engages everyone (Crothers, 2002).
The most important change that I will recommend for my organization is to focus upon participative leadership. Every member needs to feel they are part of the change and acquire a sense of ownership. Researchers emphasize the power of strong collegial relationship in achieving improvement. It lays the foundation for developing shared ideas that generate positive change. Collaborating is the heart of leadership. Teacher leadership will be useful in accomplishing the task of collective participation in leadership because it ensures cohesion around a particular development. A collective goal is established, and every member contributes towards its achievement.
Teacher leadership as a principle is different from managing change. It endorses the principle that every member has the skills and aptitude to lead. It is, therefore, imperative that every proposal by any member be regarded as a potential strategy. Implementing change requires active participation by every member on the established needs of the organization. It involves monitoring the progress and being flexible to accommodate a different approach as the conditions change.
Ackerman, R. H. (2007). Uncovering teacher leadership: Essays and voices from the field. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Crowther, F. (2002). Developing teacher leaders: How teacher leadership enhances school success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Hirsch, D. (January 01, 2004). From Theory to Practice in Education. Oecd Observer.
Michalak, J. M. (January 01, 2012). Inclusive school leadership in challenging urban communities: A comparative study. Šolsko Polje, 23, 181-199.