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:
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.
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!
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.