Tuesday / March 5

30 Reasons to Thank Teacher Leaders

May is Teacher Appreciation Month! Therefore, it is time to thank teachers for all the ways they show leadership in their classrooms, schools, and the larger community. With the help of teachers who show leadership in multiple ways, children and schools thrive! Without the benefit of teacher leadership our schools are not nearly as successful as they could be. Here are 30 formal and informal ways teachers show their leadership:

  1. Teachers are leaders when they work together to develop common formative assessments and benchmark tests.
  2. Teachers lead when they collaborate with others to interpret and make use of the assessment data they collect.
  3. Teachers lead by developing units and lessons, pacing guides, and instructional strategies for implementing standards-based curriculum.
  4. Teacher leaders plan and develop professional development for other teachers, saving their schools and districts many thousands of dollars.
  5. A growing number of teachers lead by writing blogs and creating websites to share their expertise and ideas with other teachers. Teachers all over the country read teacher-created blogs and websites for new ideas, advice, and support, and even for validation and empowerment.
  6. Other teacher leaders are using Twitter and Instagram to share ideas and resources.
  7. Many teachers continue their learning by creating their own Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) by engaging with or following other teacher leaders on the Internet.
  8. Many teachers show leadership by mentoring other teachers, whether they do this formally and are trained and paid for doing it, or whether they do this informally because teacher leaders are naturally collaborative.
  9. Teachers also lead informally by serving as a buddy, by being a role model, or by being a confidante for other teachers.
  10. More and more teacher leaders are convening and attending “unconferences” and Edcamps where they can network and learn from each other.
  11. Many teacher leaders work with parents, families, and other teachers to find the best ways to increase parent involvement in their particular contexts.
  12. Teacher leaders do everything from attending parent-teacher organization meetings, to offering parent curriculum nights at their schools, to partnering with parents on school committees, to helping other teachers learn how to work well with the parents at their school.
  13. More and more teachers are showing leadership by contributing videos of their classroom instruction to websites like the Teaching Channel, TeacherTube, and Vimeo so that other teachers, especially preservice and novice teachers, can learn from them.
  14. Multitudes of teachers lead by sharing their favorite teaching resources on Pinterest, Delicious, and LiveBinders. Although they probably do not see this as a form of teacher leadership, we do!
  15. Many teachers are making their Prezi presentations public or doing the same with other websites such as Animoto, Authorstream, Glogster, Mentormob, and Quia, to name just a few.
  16. Teacher leaders are engaged in building coalitions with their state association, local parent groups, and administrative organizations to advocate for effective education legislation.
  17. Teachers serve as leaders when they design and offer after-school clubs for elementary and middle school students, and when they serve as coaches.
  18. Teachers are leaders when they work to establish dual enrollment World Language courses that increase the number of students who earn college credits.
  19. Techers lead when they help their English learners master academic language and overcome language gaps in their respective disciplines.
  20. Teachers who are leaders mentor students who have been identified as having low self-esteem or issues with bullying.
  21. Teachers lead by organizing access to classes with professional musicians for students who cannot afford private lessons, or by starting up a Kidz Notes program at their school.
  22. Teacher who lead participate in school or district-wide restorative justice programs for improving behavior and attendance issues.
  23. Teacher leaders create an alternative curriculum for students on extended absences (approved, home-hospital, or suspensions) to ensure that every student has access to a standardized curriculum.
  24. Teachers grow as leaders by participating in observational rounds on campus to learn from others’ best practices.
  25. Teachers lead when they create a PLC or support group for fellow content-area teachers so they can advocate for and share best practices in their discipline and model successful lessons.
  26. Teachers are leaders when they are part of a cohort that supports teachers going through the National Board Certification process or teaching AP classes.
  27. Teachers lead by helping to rethink teaching schedules and advocating for a half day each month where students are released early so teachers can collaborate to strengthen their instructional practice.
  28. Teachers who research and then advocate for arts curriculum, media specialists, and guidance counselors to counter legislation that proposes eliminating mandatory arts time from the curriculum and reducing or eliminating other support services are leaders.
  29. Teachers also lead by collaborating with teacher organizations and policymakers to advocate or legislation that requires culturally relevant, effective multilingual instruction.
  30. A growing number of teacher leaders are calling for “teacher-powered schools” (see or and working to make this happen.

We know this list is not inclusive of all the ways that teachers show their leadership. We also know that you can cite many more examples of teacher leadership! So, please put on your thinking cap and add to our list. Then make an effort to thank teachers you know for the leadership he or she is providing because we believe that Every Teacher is a Leader in some way. A simple email or sticky note will do, but so will a more public shout out during Teacher Appreciation Month! In fact, use this blog to share the accomplishments of teacher leaders you know. Let every teacher who shows their leadership in large and small ways shine during Teacher Appreciation Month!

Written by

Barbara Levin has been a Professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) since 1993. She was an elementary school teacher for 17 years before earning her Ph.D. at the University of California-Berkeley. Dr. Levin served as the Director of the Teachers Academy at UNCG, assistant department chair, and director of graduate studies. She was awarded the first Mentoring-Advising-Supervising (MAS) Award in the School of Education at UNCG. Dr. Levin also served as an Associate Editor for Teacher Education Quarterly for 8 years, and was co-PI on a 5-year, $1.4 million National Professional Development grant from the Dept. of Education called TESOL for ALL. Her research interests include: understanding how teachers’ pedagogical beliefs develop across their careers; case-based teaching; problem-based learning (PBL); universal design for learning (UDL); and leading, teaching, and learning with technology.

Lynne Schrum is Dean of the Abraham S. Fischler College of Education at Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Previously, she was the Dean of the College of Education and Human Services at West Virginia University. Prior to that, she was a professor and coordinator of elementary education in the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University. Her research and teaching focus on preparing teachers for the 21st century, appropriate uses of information technology, and leadership in a digital world.

They are authors of Every Teacher a Leader, Leading 21st Century Schools, and Evidence-Based Strategies for Leading 21st Century Schools.

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