The current state of affairs leaves most of us in a haze of hopelessness. The fact that I felt the blossoms of inspiration in the midst of this haze is quite a remarkable feat. Last week at the Arizona K-12 Center’s 2nd Annual Celebration of Accomplished Teaching, I was honored to listen to a keynote address by the National Teacher of the Year, Sarah Brown Wessling. Sarah spoke of the art of teaching, compared our daily work to poetry, took issue with the national obsession with “bad teachers” and addressed teacher leaders.
As I contemplated her words, the final two minutes of her keynote resonated with every fiber of my being. In her classroom she has various prints of masterpieces, and through her travels she has been awarded the opportunity to see the original masterpieces in person. She compares her finished, glossy prints as how society views teaching-neat, effortless. However, when she views the original piece of art she can see the brushstrokes, the messy lines, the vivid colors. She was struck with the magnitude of the piece because she could see the many details. Seconds after I had the image, she stated, “Teacher Leaders see the details.”
Yes, they do. Teacher Leaders know that teaching is as complex as the students in their classrooms. Teacher Leaders are often the ones that connect practice to policy, even when those in power are only concerned with connecting policy to practice (as my fellow blogger Mike Lee represents in his latest blog).
Teacher Leadership is a gray, messy, abstract concept, yet we know a Teacher Leader when we meet one. Walk onto any campus and speak to the teachers in that building and they will identify the Teacher Leader(s) without a second thought. Hence the complexities of Teacher Leadership, so here are my thoughts:
Teacher Leaders are the details. Teacher Leaders are the translators. Teacher Leaders are the buffers. Teacher Leaders are the filters. Teacher Leaders are the voice. Teacher Leaders are not defined by their title or their job description. Teacher Leaders are valued as an asset, or a liability depending on the confidence of the official leadership in their school, district, or state.
I’ve shared my thoughts. What are your thoughts about Teacher Leaders?
image by Simon Howden