Lonestar College Mod 5 Opposi

Teacher leadership is not a new field, but it has gained traction in recent years as school administrators’ duties have expanded. While teachers have always been leaders in their classrooms, they are being asked to assume additional responsibilities in teacher leadership roles. How has this trend been perceived by teachers?

Develop an original response to the following prompt:

Select one of the following statements with which you disagree. Craft a response with at least one citation supporting your opposing claim.

  1. Only teachers who struggle need teacher leader mentoring.
  2. Teacher leaders must be experts in a discipline to lead others in it.
  3. Few to no barriers exist for a teacher assuming a leadership role among peers.
  4. There is no reason to engage in teacher leadership unless the teacher aspires to be an administrator.

POST 1

After reviewing the variety of statements, I most strongly disagree with the idea that only teachers who struggle need teacher leader mentoring. I believe that all teachers at some point in their career can be mentored to improve upon their practice. Teaching is much more than providing good content instruction to students. Teaching includes so many other factors, such as: behavior management, technology integration, relationship building, student collaboration, contact with families, professional development, etc. It is important to note that a teacher can be strong at several of these attributes while also having room for improvement in other attributes. A teacher leader can act as a mentor for minor or major questions that arise within any of these entities. “Mentors assume many roles, from parent figure and troubleshooter to guide, counselor, and role model” (Smith, 2011). I rely on several different teacher leaders to guide me in different areas of the teaching profession due to their specific strengths.

I can reflect upon my own teaching practice and apply my opposing argument to myself. As a middle school science teacher, I do well with teacher evaluations. Therefore, on paper, I would not look as though I am a “struggling teacher”. However, I regularly need assistance from teacher leaders on different topics. For example, this school year I struggled with engaging my homeroom students in the remote learning environment. Homeroom is an opportunity at the end of the school day for students to work on homework, executive functioning, team building, and social emotional learning. I reached out to other teacher leaders within the building to ask how they were engaging their students in social emotional lessons, class games, and homework support. Starting these conversations amongst several teachers led to a collaboration document that provided different strategies and activities teachers use to engage their students in homeroom. Although this is a simple example that has a quick solution, it goes to show that all teachers need to keep their mind open to learning new things because teacher leaders can help you support your students in ways you may not have thought of.

Additionally, I have been a teacher leader mentor for a new teacher in my district. This continuously proved to me that all teachers require teacher leaders. This teacher was a strong educator from the beginning, however needed help navigating the in’s and out’s of the school specifically. Some areas she needed help in were items like the teacher evaluation process, student discipline in relation to the student handbook, and incorporating personalized learning strategies into her classroom. This teacher was a very successful teacher prior to my mentoring, but with some guidance and strategies, she became stronger as the year progressed.

Resources:

Smith, E. (2011). Faculty Mentors in Teacher Induction: Developing a Cross-institutional Identity. Journal of Educational Research, 104(5), 316–329. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220671.2010.482948

POST 2

While I do not agree with any of these statements to a varying degree, the one I disagree with the most is there is no reason to engage in teacher leadership unless the teacher aspires to be an administrator. I disagree with this statement as it directly applies to me. I have never had any interest in becoming an administrator as I enjoy being in the classroom with my students, but I still want to be a teacher leader. According to Nguyen (2018), when it comes to making changes within a school there is more trust between teachers and teacher leaders than there is with administrators who are not in the classroom. Many teacher leaders are in the same position everyday as a teacher and therefore has many of the same classroom experiences, while an administrator may not have had the same experiences. Many teachers trust teacher leaders more than they trust administrators because of those experiences. The last Assistant Principal of STEM in my school taught sixth grade math for one year before becoming an administrator so it was difficult for her to relate to what was occurring within our high school classrooms.

A good example of a teacher leader that is not an administrator is that of a PLC leader within my school. The goal of a PLC leader is to encourage growth and reaching their full potential for the members of the PLC without the top-down leadership interfering (Charner-Larid, 2016). PLC leaders are in charge of looking at data from common assessments and suggesting best practices to improve the teaching that is occurring in the classroom. Being a PLC leader does not necessarily mean that one wants to become an administrator but rather that they want to see growth and improvement within their school. I have been a PLC leader in the past and enjoyed working with other teachers within my building and looking for ways to improve the school, but I have no intentions on becoming an administrator. There have been a few teachers in my building who have used being a PLC leader as a stepping stone to becoming an administrator, but not every PLC leader wants to become an administrator.

One of the main differences between being an administrator and being a teacher leader in my district is that administrators are required to do evaluations and I am not comfortable with that. I enjoy discussing curriculum, analyzing data and looking for ways to improve, but I do not feel comfortable walking into another teacher’s classroom and giving them a rating based on a 50 minute observation. As a teacher for 23 years, I realize that there are good days and bad days in the classroom. Sometimes a lesson goes better than expected and sometimes it just does not work. I enjoy being a teacher leader in many different capacities, but becoming an administrator is not a position that I wish to achieve.

References

Charner-Laird, M., Ippolito, J., & Dobbs, C.L. (2016). The roles of teacher leaders in guiding PLCs focused on disciplinary literacy. Journal of School Leadership, 26(6), 975-1001.

Nguyen, T.D., & Hunter, S. (2018). Towards an understanding of dynamics among teachers, teacher leaders, and administrators in a teacher-led school reform. Journal of Educational Change, 19(4), 539-565. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10833-017-9316-x 

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