A few years ago my district started a leadership workshop. These were monthly meetings on a range of topics. Leadership has always been an interest of mine, so I signed up for the workshop.
At the first meeting, I looked around the room and immediately felt like a fraud. Most of the people in the room were in leadership roles in the district. I was “just” a fourth grade teacher.
Over the next few months I attended the workshops and eventually got my principal certification. During that time, I thought a lot about those initials concerns. What was I, a teacher, doing in a room full of “leaders” in my district. These were people who were running transportation programs, various buildings, curriculum departments, and other aspects of the school district.
Then a thought occurred to me: I am running a classroom with 26 students. I am running a small company everyday. This requires communication with students from a range of ability and their families. There is daily planning and adjustments as situations arise. I’m responsible for the safety and security of the students in my class. All of this takes leadership.
There are many definitions of leadership and even more characteristics of a great leader. Here are a few qualities from a Forbes article:
- Sincere enthusiasm
- Great communications skills
- Managerial competence
These are all qualities good teachers posses. They are enthusiastic about their subject area and students. They do what is right for all students and guide their classroom with integrity. They communicate with students, families, colleagues, and other stakeholders. They passionately advocate for their students and show an unwavering loyalty in the process. They make as many as 1,500 decisions during a school day. They know and understand the curriculum, the systems in the district, and the other structures necessary to be successful – managerial competency. They empower their students to rise to their greatest potential. They get buy-in from students who, often, are not enthusiastic about school. That takes charisma.
Teachers should never feel inadequate sitting in a leadership workshop because to be a great teacher means you need to be a great leader.