I am not sure how many TLC districts in Iowa are aware that NEA has developed Teacher Leader Model Standards.
As I was reading over these skills, I noticed how frequently the word “facilitate” appeared across all of these standards.
1c) Employs facilitation skills to create trust among colleagues, develop collective wisdom, build ownership and action that supports student learning;
2b) Facilitates the analysis of student learning data, collaborative interpretation of results, and application of findings to improve teaching and learning;
4a) Facilitates the collection, analysis, and use of classroom- and school-based data to identify opportunities to improve curriculum, instruction, assessment, school organization, and school culture;
6c) Facilitates colleagues’ self-examination of their own understandings of community culture and diversity and how they can develop culturally responsive strategies to enrich the educational experiences of students and achieve high levels of learning for all students;
As teachers, our learners are typically students under 18. Through our collegiate coursework and via practicums, student teaching, and classroom teaching, we have all become specialized at the facilitation of learning among students within a narrow age range. For example, I am very competent at facilitating dicsussions, labs, and other activities among high school science students in chemistry and biology. However, outside that narrow range of learners, my skills quickly diminish.
Effective teacher leaders must be able to facilitate the professional learning of their colleagues, who are all adult learners, with various levels of experience, expertise, and need for and buy-in to your leadership style. Preparation for this type of role among teachers is limited or non-existent in a collegiate setting. Like teaching itself, teacher leadership skills are primarily built through on the job practice.
Looking at these standards more closely, it becomes evident that trust is a large component of success when leading other adults. They have to trust that you are competent and willing to listen to their thoughts, ideas, and concerns. Even if you are leading them, it must be a collaborative leadership, where they are given a voice, their input is valued, and you are willing to learn from them as they learn from you.
Yes, analysis of data, and other neccesary tasks must be accomplished and are important, but without buy-in from the people you are leading, your efforts will be minimally effective. I feel more is accomplished in the power of the collective than in the peripheral role of a single individual or in the sum of individual efforts done in isolation.