Leadership can take many forms. It can be take charge or by example. It can be a position or an attitude. It can be a mission or by default. Leadership is essential to any endeavor. It is critical for success. Leadership is vital for improvement and growth, and it is there for the taking. If there is a vacuum, something will fill it.
As teachers, we often allow those vacuums to fill with people that really do not know what it is like in the classroom. Our focus is the students that we teach, and we let other people make the decisions that impact our success or failure in our classrooms. As teachers we need to begin to see our potential as educational leaders, and fill those vacuums ourselves.
As teachers we should strive to be instructional leaders. Working with other like-minded professionals is one of the best ways to grow our teaching skills. Many opportunities are available to network with other teachers and learn from the information brought from different experiences.
The Kentucky Reading Project is one of the best learning experiences I have ever had. The Kentucky Reading Project is part of the Collaborative Center for Literacy Development and reaches teachers across the state through KRP sites at each regional university. Participants can earn three hours of credit, a stipend, and receive many new books and resources. This project brings together teachers, kindergarten through 5th grade, as a community of learners. For two weeks practitioners with various years of experiences come together to deepen their understanding of best practices in literacy. I have been involved for several years as a co-director, and look forward to learning with a new cadre each year. The project helps develop leadership skills through the creation of an action plan that allows teachers to go back to school and use the strategies and ideas gleaned from the course. Teachers can be the ripple that creates a wave of literacy transformation.
Teacher organizations are other venues for leadership opportunities. Collectively teachers can have a strong voice. It is with a strong voice we can be heard. We cannot take ownership of our profession unless we are willing to speak up. When we work together, we can impact decisions. The Kentucky Education Association provides many ways for teachers to develop leadership skills. Planning is underway for the TALK Conference June 16 and 17. The sessions are conducted by teachers, and for teachers. The conference will include great information on the new science standards, technology and proven ideas for the classroom. Teachers from all across the commonwealth will be sharing strategies and methods that they have used and found beneficial in the classroom. This conference is sponsored by several different organizations including KEA, the Kentucky Department of Education, the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, and the Fund for Transforming Education. This collaboration enables teachers to network and discover many opportunities to become connected with other teacher leaders.
Momentum is growing for teacher leadership. It is interesting to think about how the teaching profession might change to meet the ever increasing demands that are placed on us. Talk of hybrid roles, career continuums and change is in the air. Now more than ever teachers need to become part of the discussion.
Holly Bloodworth, a teacher at Murray Elementary School (Murray Independent), was named the 2014 Kentucky Teacher of the Year on Oct. 16, 2013. She will be sharing her educational experiences in and outside of the classroom with Kentucky Teacher readers during her year-long reign.