Do you get on or do you get left behind? Well, it depends on who is driving the bus? Have you ever sat in a professional development and thought “Why on earth am I here?” or “Could the rest of the staff look any more bored?”. In September I had a huge a-ha! I knew that my principal was pretty visionary, but 4 years in to her administrative career I suddenly realized the absolute genius behind her plan of shared leadership. We were all so excited to be at PD because it was continuing our LEADERSHIP development. We all have a voice and role on our campus and could not be any happier to serve our students and our community. According to www.boardcertifiedteachers.org, “Schools with many National Board Certified Teachers have strong professional communities, focused leadership, learning, and collaboration. The culture of the school benefits from the common language of the National Board Standards and are characterized by higher rates of teacher morale, teacher retention and increased community involvement.” We are not all board certified (yet) but we are all leaders on our campus and we utilize a common language of leadership and that provides us with a strong purpose and incredible morale. After meeting with teachers from all over the state at various events, I was asking myself why moral is so high on some campuses and so low on others, often within the same district, and it seemed to boil down to those who believed their administration respected them and had their backs, and those who didn’t. The most frustrated teachers, the ones saying that “This is the last year!”, had felt that administration had dismissed or even mocked their efforts to be leaders on their campuses. These were teachers who have passion for solving problems and looking for leadership opportunities in their communities, but their solutions based efforts had been diminished by those who should have been supporting and encouraging them. When administration works to create space for teacher autonomy and leadership, teachers feel like they have not only a voice, but an ally with an empathetic ear. Educators and administration should work together to create collaborative plans for putting student learning first and sorting through educational initiatives and policies without minimizing teacher autonomy. In Professional Capital, teacher empowerment and leadership is emphasized for teachers in years 8 +. By honoring the expertise that teachers possess and creating space for shared leadership, we keep our passion for education and student learning ignited and moving forward. It is important to note that leadership is a choice and not a position. By recognizing leadership around us and communicating our worth to one another we can create the collaborative cultures within our schools that we need so very much. Leadership can be shared so seamlessly that to an untrained eye it can be hard to tell who exactly is driving the bus.
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