Teacher-Powered Schools

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I have posted about this several times, but in case I missed  anyone, the state of Iowa is in a great place to lead the nation with our statewide teachers leadership and compensation model. Last Fall, 39 districts in Iowa (including my district in Johnston, IA) began implementing their models. For more background, visit:

TEACHING LEADERSHIP: More Schools Add Instruction Model

Johnston Teacher Leadership and Compensation Grant

I took the time to watch a video on Collaborative Leadership. It made great points about building an organizations capacity for collaborative leadership, specifically given the reality that there is a shortage of leadership, especially in emerging areas. We must avoid looking for leaders in the wrong places and must not fail to recognize the leaders of tomorrow when we see them. We cannot afford to disenfranchise passion or potential.

Clearly, teacher leadership and teacher-powered schools represent such an emerging area in education. This also resonated with me also within my local union in the sense that we are always looking for ways to develop local talent. More to to the point, we must rexamine what qualities comprise effective leadership and compare traditional definitions of leadership to needed qualities within our new leadership reality.

Effective leadership now requires leaders to “lead from behind”, meaning they are unleashing the talent and potential of those from around them, as opposed to leading from the front where only the leader is making important contribution. This leadership style is more inclusive, innovative, and collaborative, building the capacity of those around them to full inclusion and embraces the concepts behind The Multiplier Effect, where leaders seek out opportunities to recognize those around them and harness their talents and ideas. By so doing, effective leaders understand that the people around them will feel empowered and will bring their whole selves to work everyday. Ultimately, in today’s current reality, effective leaders are only effective to the extent that they can build and sustain effective and fully engaged teams of people around them.

As I work within my district in a role as one of 7 lead teachers at one building with nearly 100 teachers and nearly 1600 students, my leadership role within that building appears small; however, all teacher leaders should not view ourselves in this way, as we they are not alone. We are part of a team and every member of that team has important contributions to make for the betterment of our team and for our students.

It is also encouraging that the momentum to embrace teachers as educational professionals is growing. Its about time! We are the ones that work directly with students every day in our classrooms. We know their learning needs. We know they have social/emotional/psychological and many other needs that are met within our schools as well. We ought to have a seat at the leadership table and our voices and perspectives should be valued and more fully utilized. I was encouraged by the Math and Science Leadership Academy in Denver, CO. This teacher-led movement needs to grow across the country to be more than a pilot project in Denver. I am fortunate to be in a state that has embraced this and hopefully we will experience enough success as a state that other states will take initiative to develop this as a state as well.

I also took a look at many of the Teacher-Powered Resources as well. I had no idea so much work had already been done in this area! It was very encouraging and hopefully the momentum for teacher leadership will continue to build. More great articles to explore around the concept of Teacher-Powered Schools Include:

~Brad Hurst

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