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Great Teacher Doesn’t Equal Great Leader

great teacher in classroom

A Great Teacher does not equal a Great Leader

This one idea always throws great teachers who are aspiring off their axis because they have spent so much of their career mastering their classroom practices with their student in their room. They have read, trialled, and upskilled themselves to the point where they are awesome in the classroom.Then there is a moment of, "What next? I'm ready for the next challenge."

Shifting from Teacher to Leader

A teacher focuses on: A leader focuses on:
students in their class Students across the year level or school
How they implement strategies How the teaching team implements strategies
Creation of resources Creation of collaborative sharing

Are you too focused on your students?

"I do X in my class"

"My kids do X in my class"

Keeping the focus on your students is going to continue to stunt your leadership potential. You need to start looking beyond your classroom walls.

How is the whole cohort going?

How are the teachers going?

Look up from just your desk and see where the struggles are and what you can do to help solve them. To lead, you need to know how all students across the cohort are performing and how to support teachers to help students reach their potential.

The answer cannot be for you to go in and teach other people’s students. You cannot be the solution. You need to provide a solution to the teacher, support them in implementing it and then the students improve.

I've seen too many schools, allow expert teachers to come off class and start doing intervention work with students. Although this is effective use of a resource, the teacher, it will continue to deepen the expert teachers’ skills rather than build the whole teams capacity.

The answer is never, “Just give the kids to me".

 

It's time share your awesomeness, great teacher!

There are things that you know how to do really well. Tasks, procedures, or strategies that you have mastered.

Who is the person that gets the benefit of that wisdom?

Who is the person that will do that thing when you're in a leadership position?

It's about succession planning. If you are making moves to become a leader, it's important you garner interest into who is looking to upskill in areas you are awesome at and start handing over the mantle. It doesn't need to be one person who picks up things you are responsible for, you can spread it around.

For example, I built a data tracking system for whole cohort of students, whilst I was Numeracy Support Teacher, which tracked their literacy and numeracy results over several years of high school. This provided our team with infomation to target interventions as we could see the trends in students results. This spreadsheet was my baby.

When I became Head of Department for our team, I had to let go of doing that job. The time I spent playing with the spreadsheet was needed elsewhere. But it was hard to let go. The updating of the spreadsheet needed someone who was very comfortable with the program and no one in our team was close. I put the feelers out and someone put their hand up. We began the work and over 2 terms, she was fully up to speed and had completely taken over all aspects of the tracking.

If I had my time again, I would have started shifting some of the work to others to build up a succession plan for that important task I was solely responsible for.

So, find the things that you are awesome at and start sharing your expertise with them. So, one day, you won't have to keep doing it.

It’s also important to remember that a leader doesn't have all the answers.

Just because your strategies work well for you with your class, doesn't mean they'll work for everyone. Some of our favourite strategies work because...of us. Our personality. Our preferences.

As you begin sharing your wisdom, be mindful that what works for you may not work for others. Something insightful for new aspiring leaders is to see a strategy that works so well for you, fail for another teacher. Again, the fix cannot be, "Just let me do it".

When sharing strategies, make the interaction reciprocal. A give and take. Allow others to add to the discussion. Rather than you 'gifting' them the 'perfect' strategy, you're allowing more voices to be heard and the team to generate best practice for themselves.

In conclusion

Being great teacher does not equal a great leader, so I've shared a few shifts you can make.

  1. From my students to our students.
  2. Success planning.
  3. You don't have all the answers

Like support in shifting from teacher to leader?

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