Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Teachers As Leaders: Smaller Schools Can Have a Large Advantage

Working at a small school in a big district has brought some challenges, but it also has produced unexpected opportunities I neglected to see. Our district is working on several fronts: Professional Learning Communities, Response to Intervention, Marzano 4-point grading scale work, The Daily 5 literacy, curriculum mapping, and district/school-wide scheduling.

These professional development opportunities each require 4-6 days out of the classroom. Ask any teacher, that's a lot of time to be out of their classroom so these days had better be meaningful and produce positive results. So far, the PD has not disappointed! When you work in a large school, you have several teachers who can help share the load. When you work in a small school, the burden is carried by few.

The unexpected opportunity showed itself as I was compiling a list of all PD dates and which teachers would be attending. The list included every district-level committee, its members, and meeting dates. As I reviewed the list I noticed that EVERY teacher at my school volunteered to be on at least one committee, and several teachers are members of two or three. I want to say that again in case you overlooked it. They volunteered. They weren't forced. They recognized the need for leaders and they seized the opportunity.

A large part of the committee members' responsibility is to bring the new information back to their respective schools and share with the other staff members. My teachers are attending these PD days and coming back as strong leaders. As members of two or three committees they have the chance to see more of the district's 'big picture' and they come back to school with a clearer district vision and goal.

My teachers are effective and striving to become better all the time. That's not because of anything I've done. That comes from within each individual teacher. They possess the desire to become better and my job is to encourage their leadership and provide opportunities for growth.

Teachers are leaders at our school and I couldn't be more proud of the work they're doing!


  1. John,

    That is really great you have such willingness by the staff to voluntarily join these committees. Without knowing much information about the situation, I would say these educators really feel as if they have a voice and want to be a part of the solution. They are taking ownership in the changes that are occurring in the school and district, and that is awesome! Encourage, embrace, and support these educators because unfortunately I think it is rare to find so many educators willing to share their time, especially for a cause not of their own. Great work and I really enjoy reading your blog!

  2. Justin,
    I certainly hope my teachers feel like they have a voice. This is my first year at this building and my first role as building principal and I try very hard to make sure all voices are heard and respected. Thanks for commenting. I have followed your work for a few months and certainly value your blog, thoughts, and ideas.