One area of broad agreement in education circles is that public school principals are over-burdened. It’s a difficult job, and principals are often given too little training or ongoing support. With that in mind, teacher leadership makes a lot of sense; not only do teacher leaders provide classroom insights and expertise in their leadership activities, but they also potentially make the principal’s job slightly more manageable.
However, one of the key tensions in teacher leadership is the degree to which the teacher leader simply fulfills basic administrative duties or engages as a partner shaping policies and practices. We want to help lead, not be handed someone else’s to-do list. This recent EdWeek article details how some districts are expanding teacher leadership.
Marilyn Boerke, the principal of Liberty Middle School in Camas, Wash., a district of 6,400 students along the Columbia River, applauds the district’s philosophy that encourages teachers to serve in school leadership roles and actively creates opportunities for them to do so.
Teachers are being recruited by the district—and many are stepping up—to run professional-development sessions, coach their peers, and help adapt curriculum to the common-core standards.
“We were dying on the vine as building administrators trying to manage everything that we needed to manage,” said Ms. Boerke, who has been a principal for nine years.
As principals’ responsibilities continue to grow, Camas and other like-minded districts are tapping their teacher corps to create meaningful leadership roles that are meant to address a number of pressing issues in public schools: reduce stress on building administrators, improve teaching and learning, and help retain new and veteran educators.