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Teachers, you don’t need a title to be a leader

Leaders create a path to inspire others. General Montgomery defined leadership as “the capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.” This definition can inspire teachers to find their own voice and in turn, their influence. 

In my introductory post, we looked to Martin Luther King Jr. for inspiration. Now, we turn to practicing teacher leaders who share about the people and ideas that inspire them to lead.


International inspiration for building teacher leadership by Megan Allen

"I am going to take a moment to brag about some of my favorite teacher leaders who are blazing the path as we speak."

Lead from the Front by Renee Moore

“My first principal, Mr. Leroy Byars always admonished the staff at our school to show our expectations for our students through our own actions and behaviors.”

Why be a Career Teacher by Justin Minkel

“One of my early heroes was Al Gordon, a kindergarten teacher who had taught for over 30 years at our school in West Harlem. When he and I went to lunch, it was like hanging out with a rock star.”

Do you see yourself as the leader? by Jose Vilson

“I'm starting to see the value in building a groundswell for yourself that doesn't leave those high-ranking officials with much of an option except to know you.”

Action Step: After reading these articles, identify a teacher (or multiple teachers) who are leading creatively from the classroom either locally, nationally, or internationally. Then think about what you admire about their teacher leadership. Now, reflect about your own situation: How could you emulate one aspect of their leadership within your own context? What does your first leadership step look like?


Want to engage with a group of teacher leaders from around the nation and the world? Join the CTQ Collaboratory and become a part of a growing virtual community engaged in conversations around teaching, learning, and leadership.



1 Comment

Justin Minkel commented on February 3, 2014 at 1:42pm:

Who is it about?

Brianna, I love this conversation-starter.

Most of the teachers in movies are all about themselves. I think of Robin Williams (Keating) in Dead Poets Society--yes, he inspired life changes in his students, along with a great poem or two, but he also forged a cult of personality that was largely about HIS passion/outrageousness/rebellion, rather than his students'.

Many of the teachers I most admire realize that it's not all about them. One of my closest friends, colleagues, and heroes is Marguerite Izzo, the 2007 New York Teacher of the Year. Part of what I respect so much about her is that she realizes it's not about her, but about using her talents and dedication to further the thinking/skills/dreams/wishes of her students.

When it comes to teacher leadership, she realizes it's not about us, either, but about the many teachers we can support to become more effective teacher leaders.

When I think of her work, I think of a line attributed to Tolstoy's novels:

"The true protagonist sees (herself/)himself not as the hero of the story, but as a supporting character."

When I went to a play or movie, I used to always watch what was happening on stage. Now I often watch my 5-year old daughter's face instead, to see how she's responding to what's happening. I think part of becoming a teacher is making that shift from our own point of view to pay more attention to someone else's point of view.

We talk a lot at CTQ about the need to build confidence, voice, and a sense of your own power as a teacher, and what I'm describing does not undermine that, but it's a way of harnessing that increased confidence/voice/power in the service of students, parents, or fellow teachers, rather than our own individual status or "brand."

I'm looking forward to following this conversation--you've gotten me thinking.

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