Tuesday, June 25, 2013

10-Minute Response to Teacher Leadership Interview

The following is a 10-minute response to a teacher's interview request for a graduate-course assignment:
(my responses are in blue)

a)    What are the first three words that come to mind when you hear the term “teacher leadership”?
knowledge, engagement, dedication
b)    What do you think is the primary purpose for teacher leadership?
The primary purpose for teacher leadership is for talented teachers to help their colleagues grow professionally and personally in specific areas, impacting student learning.
c)    How do you know who the teacher leaders are in your school?
Teacher leaders are typically those who do not "shy away" from opportunities for professional growth; teacher leaders are NOT based on experience, but rather a willingness to lead and serve their colleagues through sacrificing their own time.
d)    What do you feel are the characteristics of teacher leaders?
Patience, teamwork, ability to carry out the mission and vision of the entire school, i.e. someone who sees the "big picture" as their role(s) blend into the overall scope of the school
e)    What are the teacher leadership roles in your school?  How are teachers selected to fill those roles?
While we have "Department Chair" positions, the true leadership responsibilities vary drastically from department to department and I would personally suggest we revamp the department head positions to be more instruction-based, rather than solely organization-based; True teacher leadership roles include the following: PLC Lead Teacher, Curriculum Review Team, Mentor Teacher,  GRSEF Advisor, Pinnacle Leader, any type of pilot program or initiative leader, School Improvement Team representation, Club Advisor, Professional Development instructor, to name a few
f)     How are teacher leaders selected in your school?
Teacher leaders are either selected by administration or by the individual coming forward and requesting the opportunity; teacher leaders also can be recommended by their peers or by a person stepping away from a leadership role
g)    What are the desired outcomes for teacher leadership?
The consistent requirement of all teacher leadership is for the positive impact of student learning and/or the improvement of the school environment to ultimately be a result of their actions.
h)   Factors/structures that support teacher leadership?
The support by school leadership and the cooperation of the faculty greatly support teacher leadership.
i)     Factors/structures that constrain teacher leadership?
Time and fiscal resources will always be a constraint in any type of organization, but more importantly, the willingness for potential teacher leaders to "go out of their comfort zone" needs to be overcome for effective teacher leadership.
j)      Ways teacher leadership improves professional practices?
Does the leadership provided by the teacher impact other teachers to become better educators?  If the answer is yes, then the leadership is improving professional practices.  If the answer is no, then is there truly any teacher leadership occurring?
k)    Ways teacher leadership assists in school improvement?
Most teacher leadership opportunities should be directly aligned with the overall goals of the School Improvement Plan.  For example, a SIP goal could be "90% of our students will be on grade-level in 2013-2014."  Every PLC Lead-Teacher in a core-content area will have a direct impact on this school goal.
l)     Qualities and characteristics that are necessary for teacher leadership?
patience, teamwork, dedication, strong communication, accountability

Thanks for reading,


The opinions shared in this blog belong to Craig Smith and do not represent the school or district in which he works.

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