Thursday, October 27, 2011

Can Teachers Be Educational Leaders?

“Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self-importance.” -- J. Donald Walters
There are no people more obligated and less likely to lead school improvement efforts than teachers. Teachers have to look the kids in the eyes every day — not kids in the abstract, not kids in the third person, not kids in the future tense, but real, live, honest-to-God kids, and that obligates them in ways that theorists, politicians, and innovators may not even understand.

Teacher leadership can happen, and I believe it should happen, but it may require major changes in the way educators do business, and I’m not sure anybody’s really ready for it.

Teaching is a great calling. But somehow, we have managed to turn a first-rate calling into a third-rate job that hundreds of thousands of bright-eyed young people will find unacceptable.

Maybe Socrates and St. Paul were right to begin with: teaching for a living is really a very bad idea. After all, as a vocation — a calling — teaching is incomparable. But as a profession, teaching is marginal, and as a job, in many places it is the pits. Just think of all the ingenious and adventurous things we could do to educate our students if we weren’t dependent on our teaching jobs to feed our own children.

To examine these issues further, see Teacher Leadership: a likelihood?


-- WAC

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