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Who is a teacher-leader? How can teacher leadership be defined? What are the qualities and characteristics of teacher leaders?

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Dwight A. Moncur T131 Prof. K. Boles May 9, 2001 Final Paper THE QUALITIES AND CHARACTERISITICS OF TEACHER LEADERS Who is a teacher-leader? How can teacher leadership be defined? What are the qualities and characteristics of teacher leaders? Teacher leaders are scholar-activities who use research to improve classroom instruction and the school system as a whole. The position: Teacher leaders have specific characteristics and qualities and unless such characteristics and qualities exist in the individual, he/she is not a teacher leader. The selected teacher leadership issue for analyzes is "who are teacher leaders?" Some students in writing their teacher leadership interview papers concluded that the particular teacher interviewed was not a leader. By what basis did certain individuals come to this conclusion. Someone else writing the paper might have seen the individual clearly as a teacher leader because his/her understanding and perception of teacher leadership is different from that of the opponent. This paper provides a measuring stick for students and faculty in knowing whether a teacher should end up on the teacher leadership contact list or not. This paper draws heavily on the course readings. It indicates my theoretical understanding of the issue being tackled. First, I examine the debate surrounding the definition of a teacher leader. The second portion of the paper explains characteristics and qualities of teacher leaders evidenced through the readings. The conclusion goes beyond the readings by arguing that teacher leaders should be identified through structural frames as well as qualitative and quantitative measures; arguing that teacher leadership can be negative as well as positive; and arguing that evaluative measures must be placed on teachers who call themselves teacher-leader. Overall, the paper serves as a measuring stick for teacher leaders. Defining Teacher Leadership Teacher leadership means different things to different people. Defining teacher leadership is not a simply thing. The Teachers Who Lead author indicated that Ted, Gwen and Mary, and the other teachers interviewed all gave different definitions of teacher leadership. ...read more.


of the school hold about their school, beliefs they have inherited and passed on to their successors. Professor Boles mentioned (lecture 2001) we see the goal of the teacher is to make choices strategically. Teachers look at and understand the culture that surrounds the school. Schein (1985) Organizational Culture and Leadership believes leaders create organizational culture. Therefore, it goes to reason that teacher leaders can create organizational culture. Barney B. (lecture 2001) discussed the four rules of change: language, artifacts, people, and enactment. Schein (1985) examines interactive complexity where in I deduced that the key to teacher leadership success is skillful leaders who are able to balance their own and the organization's (school's) purposes. The teacher leader seeks to: determine in what ways the school is unique and in what ways it resembles other schools, identify who yields influence on and off campus, assess the quality of the chief administrators, and scan the environment for signals of things in need of attention. A true teacher leader is wise to read everything he/she could find on the school, study the history, and speak with colleagues. Susan Johnson was actively involved in changing the culture of her school to bring about greater gains in student learning. She wrote a proposal for a drop out prevention program and obtain funding from the Department of Education. (Molly Meltser 2001) Teacher "leaders lead by exemplifying the values and behaviors they want others to adopt" (Elmore 1999-2000). Not only do teacher leaders understand culture but they are adaptable or they can adapt to diverse school settings. A true teacher leader should be effective in a predominantly minority and economically disadvantaged community as well as in a majority economically strong community. Furthermore, sometimes teacher leaders have culturally radical beliefs and/or cultural radical reform agendas. The Collins article and the Anyon article pointed to the advantages, disadvantages and challenges of capitalism versus socialism. Collins holds culturally radical beliefs expressed as "I believe that socialism would be better system for organizing society" (p. ...read more.


They rely on personal charisma and a flair for drama to get people excited and committed to the school mission. A good teacher leader is a prophet and visionary, who uses symbols, tells stories and frames experience in ways that give people hope and meaning. Teacher leaders are mentors. Every teacher leader will be stronger in one orientation (structural, human resource, political or symbolic) more than another will. However, all the orientations should be a part of the life and practice of every teacher leader. The Readings Fail to Address Negative Teacher Leadership All articles written on teacher leadership fail to mention that leadership can be both a positive and negative thing. There is negative teacher leadership and positive teacher leadership. As for negative aspects of teacher leadership I noted this in some schools I taught at during my five years of teaching. Some teachers served to indiscreetly usurp the principal's authority. Some teachers in some ways served to malign the reputation of the principal by spreading false gossip throughout the settlement. Some teachers challenged the principal's authority by outrightly operating outside the parameters of the school. There was a teacher who seemed to think she could do what she wanted when she wanted. One teacher I remember would study for her weekend classes during the lesson when she should have been teaching. Evaluation of Teacher Leaders Teacher leaders should be evaluated just like in other professions. Leadership in some respects needs to be formalized and structuralized just as in the medical and other professions. Benchmarks of teacher leadership must be identified. If a teacher leader fails to meet set criteria of evaluation such title should be removed from them. Only when teachers are owners and investors in the school, rather than mere tenants can teachers be called professionals. All teachers have leadership potential and can benefit from exercising that potential. Teachers become more active learners in an environment where they are leaders. "When teachers lead, principals extend their capacity, students enjoy a more democratic society of learners, and schools benefit from better decisions" (Barth 1999, p. 445). 1 1 ...read more.

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