Educators: Take a Minute to Lead from Within

Classroom Teachers in Unique Position to Advocate for Policies, Practices

By Dr. Abby Burke, Instructor of Teacher Education University of Nebraska Omaha

Classroom teachers are leaders who lead from within. They are immersed in educational settings on a regular basis working with students, colleagues, administrators, the community and other stakeholders. They have a body of knowledge about teaching and learning that is applied as they work with students every day. These leaders have the expertise that provides them the ability to make informed decisions about what is best for the students with whom they work. Leadership comes in many forms.

How might teachers lead from within to make positive change? Change can come easily and with a small investment of time and energy. Consider these quick methods:

  • 2 minutes: Share a success story from the classroom via social media.  Sharing success stories and going public with the good work that educators are doing on a regular basis helps stakeholders to better recognize and understand the impactful things that are happening in our public schools.
  • 5 minutes: Meet with an administrator to share a current research-based best innovative practice. Administrators traditionally have a body of knowledge about instructional leadership. Teachers, on the other hand, traditionally have a deep understanding of curriculum practices. Teachers and administrators working together to make sound curriculum decisions is a win-win.
  • 10 minutes: Call or email your legislative representative to inform them how an upcoming legislative bill may positively or negatively affect students, schools, the community etc. Teachers have the expertise about how policies can affect teaching and learning, and policymakers need educator input to be able to make informed decisions. Or you can learn more about the Legislature at www.nsea.org/legislative-updates30 minutes: Have coffee with your local school board member to share a current social justice or service learning project your students are involved in.  School board members want to make decisions that are best for their schools and community. It is vital that school board members have opportunities to hear what good practices are happening. Educating your school board can ensure that appropriate resources are available to support high quality instruction for all students.
  • 45 minutes: Present at a staff meeting on a current education topic.  You are providing others an opportunity to learn about a current topic.  More importantly you are inviting your colleagues into your world of learning and professional growth.
  • 60 minutes: Present at a district level curriculum workshop. Share a successful innovation that you are implementing in your classroom.  Everyone benefits when they learn how teachers have worked to implement effective practices in a classroom. This experience can also be an opportunity to grow your professional learning network.

Classroom teachers are in a unique position to advocate for effective policies and practices that can directly and positively affect work with students on a daily basis. Teachers have the capacity to improve teaching and learning, and that can have a significant impact on educational change.

Educators: Go forth and lead from within!