Friday, February 1, 2013

Grassroots Leadership ~ Teacher-Led Schools

Guest Blogger - Janesville Parker Teacher Stephen Strieker
Admittedly and proudly, I am a bit of a populist. Grassroots efforts motivate me. My experience has been that schools nurtured from the ground up are well rooted, empowering, and provide the constancy most needed in our students’ often-erratic lives.

I am encouraged by the School District of Janesville’s (SDJ) grassroots attempts to plant and grow teachers in school leadership positions. At Parker High School, students and staff have already benefited from the leadership and service of our teacher leaders developing our Talented and Gifted (TAG) services and Common-Based Assessments (CBAs). The leadership of these teachers melds our staff as colleagues recognize these leaders are the ones most in tune with students’ and teachers’ perspectives. These teacher leaders also remain better connected to students and educators by staying in the professional field.

The extra prep period given to our teacher leaders in exchange for their service is a worthwhile investment and a model for future leadership in our school buildings. To no fault of overworked administrators, our high schools are in need of more leadership services. I would love to see more investment in teacher-led positions like deans of students, technology coordinators, curriculum leaders, and, most importantly, student poverty coordinators.

Certainly, the SDJ is considering adding needed leadership next school season. Our district made some movement, but could do lots more in breaking free of top-down management, fostering professional learning communities, creating a culture of collaboration, and empowering teachers. My hope is district leaders will look seriously at expanding teacher leadership in our schools.

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