The term of lifelong learning stands for a constant learning beyond the formal educational settings. Today, there is an increasingly important need to continue education and acquire necessary skills to adapt to the ever-changing world. This essay will explore how teacher leaders use continuous learning and reflection enhance a school environment to produce students who are ready to live, work and be a citizen in the twenty-first century.
Twenty-first century teacher leaders are encouraged to create a future for education because the strategies of yesterday’s system cannot address the needs for tomorrow. Schools need to have effective leadership skills to prepare students for future life, work, and citizenship. A leader must believe in his or her school’s vision and mission statement. Through leadership development, academic leaders are empowered to guide the direction and vision of excellence for faculty (Phillips, C., Bassell, K., Fillmore, L., & Stephenson, W, 2018). A teacher leader must be humble. Leaders who have the greatest respect are those who have shown the willingness to readily apologize when they are wrong. It is equally as important for leaders to manage responsibilities by delegating to their colleagues. “In a school where every adult is both ‘shaper and shaped,’ each person owns a share of influence and responsibility, not just over her individual job but over school-wide concerns as well” (Donaldson, 2001). Leaders must be able to successfully communicate to administrators, teachers, and other staff members as communication is the key to translating intellectual capital into social capital through shared leadership. Making connections within the school community is an essential ingredient for success (Nappi, J. S., 2014).
At St. Joseph School of Dallastown, I serve as the Coordinator of Testing and Data, which I have found that to be successful in my leadership role, it is important for the leader to adapt their methodology at times to preserve the mission’s goal for academic improvement. For example, St. Joseph of Dallastown recently changed its reading assessment inventory from the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) to Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment (F;P). Although several teachers adapted to the change, a few teachers elected to utilize the previous system of benchmarking. Since the varied methodologies being utilized would have negative impact on the validity of our scores, I elected to solve this problem by testing the students with Fountas and Pinnell and later reviewing with my colleagues the importance of everyone adhering to the same assessment as it played a major role in how our school measured competency in reading comprehension.
As a teacher leader, I have learned that it is important to conduct myself with a positive and motivated attitude. For my colleagues and I to be successful, it is important that we utilize the different methodologies/approaches to teaching to ensure that our students reach their fullest potential. This is accomplished through active listening, delegation of school responsibilities, taking initiative to help others to complete tasks related to the school, continued use of the constant, and effective communication to advocate support to each other involved in our school’s well-being.
In my leadership role, my vision is to lead a school that will support lifelong learners, promotes positive relationships among, students, staff, and administration, and that will foster academic achievement, embrace diversity, respect, communication, collaboration, growth, and excellence. Although having a vision is essential for a leader, it is equally as important to be aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses to be successful.
My primary area of strength is any instructional topic related to the development and enhancement of literacy skills. Teacher leader find this strength very attractive because they feel competent and confident in their work and they want to share their acquired expertise with others (Donaldson, 2005; Johnson ; the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers, 2004). On average, students of fourth-year teachers learn more than students of first-year teachers (Rockoff, 2004). I demonstrate this the through Kindergarten -Sixth grade instructional support lessons, and I further continue this support by continuing to take professional developments to enhance my knowledge of current, effective best teaching practices.
The primary challenge that I face as a leader is often when I share my expertise and there is some resistance encountered. As part of my leadership role, I am sometimes asked to observe a colleague and provide guidance / feedback on the lesson. This is a challenge in that it requires both the observer as well as the person being observed to communicate objectively. In order to reduce the amount of resistance, I have found that it is important to build a relationship of trust with that teacher, create a clear vision, ensure a strong and consistent implementation, and being supportive to change with consistent follow through. My role as both a teacher and a leader are important as I play an important role on the overall culture of the school.
School culture is important because it defines character and sets standards and expectations for behavior. “A school’s culture has far more influence on life and learning in the schoolhouse than the state department of education, the superintendent, the school board, or even the principal can ever have,” (Barth, 2002).
Change is important as it is indicative that the mind is growing and learning. Education leaders can provide guidance to teachers regarding subject matter teaching, a key condition for implementing changes associated with adoption of ambitious new standard (Penuel, W. w., Bell, P. p., Neill, T. T., Shaw, S. s., Hopkins, M. m., ; Farrell, C. C. 2018). Leaders try to create instructional organization by buffering teachers from differences, but when standards change, teachers and principals brace for more disconnected approach, rather than accept the possibility of reform (Spillane, Parise, ; Sherer, 2011). School leaders need to work together with other stakeholders to build supports for each other to develop a common understanding of fair teaching and learning.
Although my professional network consists of many people and organizations, I have found that the most valuable resources to be within my administration and staff. Novice teachers have reported that the knowledge their principal held in the fields such as literacy made a significant impact on their ability to effectively deliver instruction (Kindall, H. D., Crowe, T., ; Elsass, A.,2018). My network also consists of educational organizations such as National Catholic School Teacher Association (NCEA), Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Lincoln Immediate Unit, and Learning Forward, which guides my continuous professional learning on current trends and issues in education and allows me to provide our students with quality education. My best advice for anyone who wants to be a leader is to be a passionate educator who is present, relevant and leads by example.