It was recently reported in a November 3rd, 2009 ASCD Blog that presenter Ann Nkiruka Ifekwunigwe posed the question at her ASCD Fall Conference session, “Preparing Successful Teacher Leaders: What Have We Learned?” Following that question she shared her research about why leadership is such an important concern.
Ifekwunigwe pointed out:
- Many teachers who continue teaching beyond their fifth year fall into traditional routines and experience a reduced interest in teaching (Huberman, 1989).
- Successful teachers may leave teaching because they become dissatisfied with the established career path, one that provides little opportunity for advancement unless one moves into school administration (Towery, Salim, & Hom, 2009).
- When teachers pursue leadership roles that provide greater influence in curriculum and instruction, they may not feel the need to become an administrator to grow professionally (Ackerman & Mackenzie, 2007).
Throughout this ASCD session, educators were provided the opportunity to share their perspectives on teacher and administrative leadership. The overwhelming majority voiced their opinion that it is essential that we provide teachers with far more opportunities than those which presently exist. This statement was fueled by the participants’ perception that today’s administrators are “overwhelmed and can’t do it all.”
Coupled with those premises, we are faced with the sobering fact there is an even greater urgency which exists within this realm. We have reached a crucial “tipping point” in education, where there is a need for not only additional administrators….but for quality administrators who are prepared to meet the increased challenges of shrinking budgets, coupled with the intense pressure to increase student achievement.
Our preparatory programs need to do a far better job in designing and implementing curriculums that meet the ‘real” needs of these future leaders. Our professional development programs must continue to reach out and provide the necessary tools to give those committed individuals a fighting chance to achieve success.
There is just no more time to waste in this regard. The clock is ticking and it’s nearly midnight.
I agree that teachers need to have a part in creating and influencing curriculum. I see that it helps them grow professionally. As an administrator, I enjoy them being an integral part of the process because they are the ones that will implement the curriculum with their students. Their experience in the classroom and knowledge of what works is critical when developing curriculum.
The third comment of the presenter resonates with me, since after my fifth year of classroom teaching, I did pursue opportunities to have more influence in curriculum and instruction instead of moving toward the administrative route. I have experienced tremendous professional growth since making the change.
I also see a need to redefine traditional administrative roles. Instead of dividing student groups up alphabetically or by grade level to be “taken care of” in as equally sized groups as possible and having all admins (except perhaps a principal and academic vice principal) saddled with the same duties plus others that are diverse but just as equally doled out, why not play to the strengths of administrators and build capacity by including teacher leaders in building leadership?
For instance, if a school has 6 vice principals, why not assign the 3 of them who excel at intervening with at-risk or troubled (sometimes troublesome) students the duties of dealing with disciplinary issues and integration of new students into the school during the year while the 2 who are great organizers deal with planning for faculty meetings, testing, textbooks, master scheduling, assuring that students’ permanent folders are handled properly, and the 1 who is a fantastic facilities manager can address bus and building issues, such as HVAC, furniture, and new construction. They can delegate appropriate aspects of the tasks that need doing to teacher leaders who have similar passions. Each can attend all central administration meetings on the topics that pertain to them and act as liaisons when things go wrong.
Food for thought….
Although I am not real familiar with the prep programs for administrators, I do agree that teachers need to have a voice in the implementation of curriculum and practices with a guide from our adminstrators. Essentially, the adminstrators are our role models and experts. I believe if the role of the administrators was more confined to specific grade levels, more collaboration between teachers and principals would be possible. Having one principal for k-2, one for 3-5, one for 6-8, and, then, at least 2 for high schools, both parties could work closely together, creating a better overall educational experience for our students.
Being an administrator is a tough job. I am not sure if I really want to become one. Sometimes, they don`t have time to do the things that they need to do. It really makes a difference to work with somebody whom you feel comfortable with. It is easier to talk and air out your sentiments.
I am an administrator in a small rural school that faces socioeconomic and demographic issues. Not a thing I took in my master’s program prepared me for these challenges. Through years of experience and the help of a staff that persevered through some very rough times we are changing the climate of our school and beating the odds with student achievement. Colleges need to better prepare administrators for what they really face when they walk into their offices. I really appreciate my staff. We work together and keep each other going when the going gets tough.