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What Are the Most Effective Strategies for Teacher’s Leadership?
Leadership skills are one of the most important characteristics which the teacher should represent. The leadership strategy which the teacher has chosen defines the trust of the students to the teacher and also has a significant impact on the learning process. This paper is aimed to determine the most effective strategies for teacher’s leadership and the impact which they have on the learning process.
First of all, it is important to identify the phenomenon of leadership in general as it helps to represent the idea of the teacher’s leadership and how it differs from the leadership for example in management. Peter Drucker said that “the only definition of a leader is someone who has followers” (Kruse). According to the article written by Kevin Kruse, leadership is not about the titles or attributes; a leader has to inspire the people. There are a lot of examples of managers who were not the leaders of their departments. The leader is not just the individual who has followers, of course, this definition is too general, but the true leader is the person who has followers who share his opinion and who are ready to work with their leader for the common aim. The teacher in the classroom is not the typical leader who must have followers, but the teacher should be the person who organizes the working process, who define the goals of the learning process, and the most important who is trusted by the students.
It is important to note that in case if the teacher is not the leader in the class this role can be played by someone else, for example by the student. In this situation, the students will follow the leader they had chosen by themselves among other students, and it may influence the learning process. It must be noted that the teacher should be aware of the events and processes which take place in the class not only during the lessons. The relationships within the class have a significant impact on the student’s ability to perceive new information and to change the activities.
It must be taken into account that the teacher’s ability to be a true leader can make a learning process easier for the students, as the teacher can influence the student’s self-esteem. Also, the teacher as a leader gives an inspired example of the person who can be followed by other people, and the person who can be an authority for the individuals during their learning processes.
With the development of school educational system, the role of the teacher changed a lot. Early on the 19th and the 20th centuries, the role of the school leader was played by the school principal. The teacher was only the person who controlled the learning process and the discipline in the class (Amidon). The methods which were used by the teacher can not be characterized as very different; they used the leadership style which was based on the punishment and fear. In today’s society, the school educational system had changed, and the role of the teacher had changed too. The teacher plays a role of coach rather than a supervisor in the class. It must be stressed that nowadays the teacher can control small groups of the students and it gives the opportunity to choose the most effective strategies for the leadership. The school administration should also support the teacher’s desire to be a leader, and they should give the teacher the opportunity to be a productive and successful mentor for the particular group of students, in other words, school administration should share their power with the teachers.
One of the most effective leadership strategies is based on the trust. If the students trust their teacher, they could share with their leader their fears or problems. It must be taken into account that this is a crucial moment in the learning process, as if the student does not feel the support from the teacher, does not feel free to share the difficulties which he or she faces, in this case, the role of the teacher is overestimated (Bond). The leadership strategy based on trust is good for the small classes where the teacher can use an individual approach. In big classes, it would be harder to gain the trust of a big number of students.
Also, one of the effective leadership strategies for teachers is using the humor in their approach to the students. For example, when the teacher as a leader wants to contribute some changes in the learning process, he or she can use humor to start the conversation about serious topics. It will help the students to relax and to reduce the tension so that they will perceive the information in the more efficient way (Margolis). This strategy will be helpful in a case if the teacher is aimed to base the working process with students on the trust.
The next strategy which has to be analyzed is the framing new approaches. The teacher should implement new ways of perceiving the information to make the learning process for students easier. It is important to note that this process of adopting new strategies can be stressful for students, so the role of the teacher as a leader includes the framing and explaining these innovations to the class (Margolis). The teacher should define the pedagogical approach which will be used and inform students about it; it will make the process of study easier for both sides.
Also, the true leader should not be afraid of admitting his or her weakness. It means that the teacher as the equal member of the learning process is not protected from the mistakes, and it is critical to have the ability to admit it and to find the solution for the problems which will be suitable for everyone in the group. The teacher has to represent himself or herself as the person who also continues to learn with his or her students (Schwartz). It will make the teacher a part of the team, it will help students to feel more comfortable, and they will ask their teacher for help without the fear of being criticised or ashamed. It is essential for the successful leadership strategy to let the students feel involved with the leader who experienced the same difficulties and who will gladly help them and share with them his or her experience in solving these problems. It leads to the next strategy which is based on the using of samples during the learning process. The teacher should represent his or her experience with the in-person examples from the practice. Learning is the process of sharing experience, so using samples will help the student to understand that his or her problem is not unique, and someone had experienced the same before so it can be solved.
The role of the teacher in the classroom is not limited to teaching the material. The teacher is primarily a mentor and role model for students. The situation in the class depends on the strategy of behavior the teacher chooses, and also it defines how effectively the students will learn the material. One of the strategies that a teacher can choose is credibility. This means that from the very beginning, the teacher must draw a clear line of subordination and the connection between the student and the teacher is one-sided (Merideth). This strategy is suitable for large groups of students when it is difficult for the teacher to build trust or to use an individual approach. Communication between the teacher and the class will take place mainly in the form of lectures. It is worth emphasizing that with this approach, it is very important for the teacher to maintain his authority and to bring as many examples from his experience as possible to earn the students’ confidence in what the teacher is saying.
On the example of the education system in Finland, one can see which leadership strategy for teachers is most effective. There is no secret that the education system in Finland is one of the most successful. One of the reasons is that it is not so easy to become a teacher in this country. Only people who are completely sure that this profession is their vocation can claim to become a teacher. Thus, the state sifts out those who fall into the sphere of education by circumstances and not by vocation. Also, classes in Finland are small, which allows the teacher to use an individual approach to each student. It should be noted that in the first years one teacher conducts several basic subjects, which also contributes to the development of an individual approach to work, and without a constant change of teachers, the teacher has the opportunity to assert his authority as a leader in the classroom unconditionally.
It is important to consider another approach to leadership strategy, which is not built on trust, but on submission. To establish the authority in the classroom, the teacher can use a system of punishments and bonuses. Such an approach can be quite effective if it is properly applied, but if the teacher can not build a workflow in such a way that fear of punishment does not become a key point in the work of the class, then there is a risk that students can rally against the teacher. Excessive rigor will not help the teacher become a leader in the classroom (Katzenmeyer). In this case, the teacher can be the head of the work process, but not the real leader. After all, a real leader leads people behind him and does not unite them against himself.
One of the most effective strategies for the teacher as a leader in the classroom can be the ability to listen. It is the ability that can help the teacher win the confidence of the class. Ability to listen and understand can help the teacher to solve any conflict situation in the class fairly, which will help gain the authority among students (Amidon). Also, it is important to define which strategies should not be used. It is important for students to work in comfortable conditions, so the teacher should not put pressure on students, expecting from all the same results. One student can understand everything from the first time, but some need a second explanation. Also, it is not necessary to let students relax by creating too trusting relationships. A teacher should be a mentor whom they can trust. A true leader inspires others to become better, so the aspect of communication with students is very important for the teacher, as this helps to establish contact and understand which students need to be given more attention.
In conclusion, it should be said that the profession of the teacher implies that he or she will be a mentor and an inspirational model of behavior for students. Therefore, it is very important for the teacher to demonstrate the leadership qualities in the classroom. One of the most effective strategies is the creation of trust in the classroom, as well as an individual approach to each student. Also, it is very important to create comfortable conditions for learning in the classroom, so the problematic moments can be solved using humor. It is important to emphasize that the real leader is not afraid to admit his mistakes and show that he is also studying with his students. Also, this approach will allow the teacher to use examples from personal experience for an in-depth demonstration of the solution to the problem, which will strengthen the trusting relationship between the student and the teacher, and create a positive image of the teacher among students.
Amidon, Edmund J et al. The Role Of The Teacher In The Classroom. St. Paul, MN, Paul S. Amidon & Associates, 1985.
Bond, Nathan. The Power Of Teacher Leaders. Routledge, 2017.
Katzenmeyer, Marilyn H, and Gayle V Moller. Awakening The Sleeping Giant. Thousand Oaks, SAGE Publications, 2009.
Kruse, Kevin. “What Is Leadership?.” Forbes.Com, 2013, https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2013/04/09/what-is-leadership/#16626605b90c.
Margolis, Jason. “Educational Leadership:How Teachers Learn:How Teachers Lead Teachers.” Ascd.Org, 2009, http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb09/vol66/num05/How-Teachers-Lead-Teachers.aspx.
Merideth, Eunice M. Leadership Strategies For Teachers. Thousand Oaks, Calif., Corwin Press, 2007.
Schwartz, Katrina. “7 Qualities That Promote Teacher Leadership In Schools.” Mindshift, 2016, https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/03/16/7-qualities-that-promote-teacher-leadership-in-schools/.