A Message from the LFKS President
Teacher leadership is about giving teachers the opportunity to influence the school system beyond the door of their classroom.
As an administrator, letting go of the reins and allowing teachers to take ownership through collaboration and shared decision making can be difficult. Being a principal for 13 years, I have learned that having a collaborative, shared leadership with my staff is beneficial for the culture of the school and have gradually become more comfortable with giving the teacher the reins, or more often I say, letting them “drive the bus”. Letting go allows the teachers to have more voice, which leads to more ownership and support when decisions are made.
Having a shared leadership model requires relationships, trust and most of all collective teacher efficacy. According to John Hattie, collective teacher efficacy has the greatest impact on student achievement. Collective teacher efficacy is defined as the staff’s belief that they can positively influence student outcomes. Before collective teacher efficacy is possible, teachers need to have self-efficacy, or the belief in their own abilities. So, the next question becomes, how do we support teachers, so they become self-efficacious? This can be done again through building relationships, trust, collaboration, providing feedback and support and more.
Building teacher leaders is a multi-layered process that most certainly enhances the culture of a building and the level of collective teacher efficacy. Recently I have facilitated two big system changes in my building, one being the adoption of a new math curriculum. My role in the adoption was to facilitate the process but let the teachers “drive the bus”. We began by doing research and book studies to develop common beliefs and understandings. Based on our research and knowledge, we narrowed the pilot curriculum to four options. Instead of creating a committee to review the curriculum, all teachers piloted all four options. To make an informed decision, all teachers needed to “drive the bus”. Along the way, I asked questions, provided resources, and support. Giving my teachers the reins and trusting them, built up both their self-efficacy and collective efficacy as we worked together towards a common goal. As a former math teacher and an administrator, it was hard at times not knowing what direction they might go, but I had to trust the process and the people. In the end, we voted unanimously for the same curriculum.
At the Learning Forward Kansas Fall Institute in November, we had the privilege of learning from Dayna Richardson and Vicki Bechard about the benefits and importance of growing teacher leaders. On day two, Jim Knight shared a variety of strategies for encouraging teachers to take on more leadership roles. It was a powerful two days of learning. It is important to note that self-efficacy and collective teacher efficacy must be in place to build these teacher leaders. I want to invite you to our next Learning Forward Kansas learning opportunity coming up on February 3rd and 4th in Wichita. We will be hosting our Annual Leadership Conference at the Drury Inn. Our keynote speaker is Jenni Donohoo. She is a best-selling author and professional learning facilitator who has written a couple of books that support. John Hattie’s research about Collective Teacher Efficacy. Please come learn with us and register today to guarantee your spot. https://learningforwardkansas.org/vision-20-20-focusing-on-collaboration-and-leadership-lfks-annual-leadership-conference/ In addition, Randy Watson, our Commissioner of Education, and the Regional Kansas Teacher of the Year will be speaking. You will also have the opportunity to attend a number of break-out sessions all supporting the goal of building teacher leaders and having collective teacher efficacy.
Jo McFadden, President
Learning Forward Kansas