Awhile ago, I read the book Teacherpreneurs by Berry, Byrd, and Wieder. I am often a non-traditional reader so I started with Chapter 2 because why not?
Chapter 2 is entitled “Defining the Teacherpreneur”. There were many insights provided that I could really embrace. Perhaps the largest obstacle we are currently facing as educators is that it seems like so many initiatives and ideas to improve student learning are done to us by those far removed from the classroom. We need to create a new expectation that teacher leaders are active participants in the process to lead schools forward. We are the ones working with the students every day and the book makes a great point that we need to “no longer be controlled by meddlesome advocates and rigid bureaucrats.”
Ultimately, this is really a novel idea. For too long, the roles and responsibilities of a teacher have been narrowly constrained to in-class instruction of students. This is by far our most sacred responsibility, but by adhering to this narrow definition of ourselves, we devalue our years of educational expertise to inform the future direction of large-scaled systemic educational reform.
Adding the role of “entrepreneur” may seem an unnatural fit within our current professional reality, but teachers need to insist on acting more like an entrepreneur, “launching new initiatives and accepting the full responsibility for the results”. The second part of that quote really made me think. Teachers want a more of a voice and influence, but how often do we remember, “With more power comes more responsibility”?
In my district, some teachers are often quick to criticize administrators and others launching new ideas and are really great at finding the flaws in the ideas of others, but rarely take intellectual risks of their own that are open to critique of others. If I am truly honest, I am guilty of this myself at times, but if we truly want to be teacher LEADERS, we have to accept that not all ideas we develop will be seen as “great” by our colleagues. We need to be open to critique and responsibility and accept feedback from our fellow colleagues to shape better ideas.
The chapter also made me reflect upon the current reality of educational leadership that exists in many districts across the country. Basically, school leadership in many districts is a “rigid, pyramid-like organizational structure”. As teacher leaders we need to seek to transform this outdated model to distribute leadership more evenly, allowing more voices to be heard to shape better ideas. The idea of collaboration is often stated be an effective model of instruction. Why can’t it also be true for educational leadership?
We must also rethink the way we encounter challenges we face in our profession. Often, these are seen as obstacles, but we need to imagine them as opportunities. That I think is the essence of teacherpreneurism.