Bernard Pierorazio

Leader, Educator, Activist

Tag: leadership

Leadership in the Classroom

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With many educators hitting the halfway point of their summer break, it is imperative that first-year teachers and veteran educators reflect and internalize the importance of strong leadership within the classroom. When we talk about leadership, especially within the education sector, it is vital that teachers understand the need to cultivate and manage the social-emotional support and academic development on a day-to-day basis. Let’s put it in this perspective; strong and effective classes can only be achieved if there is a high level of respect and responsibility between the teacher and the student. For this to happen, various teaching methods and skills will be needed in order to demonstrate an overall ethic of care. Once that mentality is established, a teacher will be able to motivate and inspire their students for that necessary academic success within their educational careers.

So what defines leadership within the classroom? What embodies educational leadership?

In many ways, the definition is simple. What defines and embodies leadership within a school is the ability to create action. For any group to be successful, even outside of the education world, both inspirational leadership and group management will be necessary in order to create the necessary action for movement. In the classroom, a teacher will hold a plethora of responsibilities. Of these responsibilities, they need to understand the underlying goal of developing their students to learn, grow, and act as their own leaders within their community. To establish that presence, an educator needs to refine and perfect his or her own skills within the classroom. For first year teachers, this task may be difficult because of the lack of experience. But to understand core specific skills such as communication and management, you will be able to cultivate your classrooms into entities of change.

To start, every teacher needs to establish a strong foundation for communication. In the grand scheme of things, communication is the first step building your classrooms. From your rules to your homework worksheets, you want to make sure you students have a crystal clear understanding of what you want them to accomplish. Because of this, you want to make sure any and all ideas, especially your lesson plans, are explicit and unambiguous. Having that level of communication and language will allow your students to understand the various messages, verbal and nonverbal interactions, and ideas that you are trying to communicate with them during the operations within the class.

To help you with this, make sure you students understand his or her personal goals. The idea of providing your students a sense of purpose and responsibility will give them value to their work. In addition, it will also give value to your overall lessons. Having these goals such as hitting 80% on the test or 90% or higher on an exit ticket for a particular lesson will help inspire action for your students as well as motivational growth within your classrooms.

Now, one of the most important factors of being a teacher is building and maintaining trust with your students. Like it or not, this relationship will be one of the most pinnacle factors in how your students will work in your class. To do this, continue to establish that level of communication. Show them that you are their support system. Provide them that help when they needed. But most importantly, listen to them when they want to be heard. We have heard this so many times. A teacher is not simply a teacher. They are a mentor, a coach, a parent, and a role model to their students. Once you have established that relationship, there is nothing that can stop you from pushing and driving your students to their best.

Last but not least, understand that you are the teacher within the classroom. As much as you want to let your kids be kids, you need to understand that it will be your job to manage conflict. In reality, conflict is simply inevitable. The one thing that you can do is to learn how to manage these controversies in a positive and constructive manner. Be sure to approach each controversial situation in a holistic manner. Listen to each point of view and recognize the different ideas and viewpoints that come your way. Once that is all said and done, it will be your job to find a solution that works for the betterment of the class. One of the biggest challenges every teacher will have will always be classroom management. By controlling the situation, especially in this manner, you will be able to provide your students with the authoritative support they need to move on and grow as future scholars.

What Makes a Great Teacher?

Ye Old Classrooms

Though I am no longer in the classroom, I constantly reminisce about the times when I was a soldier in the fight for education equity. Within my four walls of my class, I saw hope, pain, failure, love, passion, and most importantly success. With all of the undergoing changes that we are seeing within the education sector, such as the move to deviate away from Common Core and assimilate of Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’ agenda, I have to ask myself one important question: What makes a great teacher?

At the end of it, No Child Left Behind, Common Core, and Race to the Top were not merely meant to shape the minds of our students and bridge the gap for education equity. Rather, it was meant for teachers to become true thought-leaders and academic professionals within their field. Though there has been a wide range of backlash by teachers themselves for the change within the new teaching standards, a majority of it does make sense. As educators, we need to understand that teaching is dynamic by nature. It is a constant entity that depends on the consistency of change. For example, your best lesson for your first period will always be altered and manipulated by the end of the day to cater to both the class periods and the individual student. It is that simple dynamic change that continues to challenge us then and now because, at the end of the day, our goal is to make our students become movers and game changers within their communities. It is our job to give them the foundation to read well, analyze word problems, and speak knowledgably so that they can be the voice and forces of change within their communities. For this to happen, we as teachers need to be leaders.

When it comes to leadership, leadership and teaching often becomes synonymous with one another. Though the concepts for both apply in different ways, for a teacher to be great, they need to have leadership in order to excel within the classroom. Below, you will see how leadership plays a role within a classroom:

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Management

As a leader, your job begins with management. No matter how great your lessons are or how prepared you can be at the beginning of the year, if you do not have management, you do not have a classroom. With leadership, you are the individual that creates an ecosystem of learning through rules and logistics so that your classroom and run smoothly and efficiently. Any type of weak management can hinder your efforts in becoming a strong teacher.

Belief & Purpose

Beyond management, a leader provides a sense of purpose and value within the field. These principles eventually become the overall class culture that will drive that movement of success within every student.

Respect, Justice, and Temperance

As a leader, you must strive to maintain the proper balance of emotion and respect for your colleagues and students. This mutual respect will ensure your students to treat each other with the admiration and kindness that they deserve. I have seen this specific instance countless times where students will mirror the respect and behavior of their teacher to their own individual peers. Remember, your classroom is a safe zone for your students. As a leader it is your job to create that community and culture.

Confidence

No matter what industry or field you are in, confidence will always play a large role in leadership. In the classroom, you need to exude confidence on all different fronts. Show your students the direction to emerge as game changers and movers within the class. Yes, at times we can often question ourselves, especially after a difficult evaluation from our administration. Do not let that deter you from being the leader of your class. Accept their notes and push on through!

Commitment

When it comes to teaching, a leader is not just a person who looks to polish their resume. Rather they look to make a change. For this to happen, a great teacher needs to be deeply committed in the work that they are doing both in and out of the classroom. Understanding and internalizing the mission for you and your students will play a key role in how impactful you can be with your students.

 

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