Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Helping Teachers Become Transformational Leaders

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Helping Teachers Become Transformational Leaders

Article excerpt

Abstract

Building learning organizations and support for administrators is imperative in today's schools. An overview of our teacher leader program is given with a description of the curriculum stressing professional development. We describe how we build teachers capacity for becoming transformational leaders at their school sites. This includes a required self-assessing, self-reflecting portfolio, use of cohort support, modeling, and reflection. Our evaluation to improve the model and program using internal and external data including questionnaires, quarterly meetings, and interviews is explained.

Introduction

We believe today's schools need to be learning organizations. We especially hold the belief that teachers must not only take on leadership roles in these learning organizations but they need to be transformational leaders. In order to be transformational leaders though we believe they need training and support. We have been teaching in a program that has evolved into a model that assists teachers in becoming transformational leaders. In this article we describe our model and how we are continuously evaluating the growth of the model and program.

Teacher Leader Program Overview

We teach in a Teacher Leader Program (TLP), which began as an off-campus professional development outreach program in 1976. It evolved into a site based course delivery system. The TLP is data-driven, research-based, and designed for in-service teachers and other school-based personnel. The curriculum concentrates on: (a) leadership; (b) philosophical and psychological foundations; (c) curriculum design and evaluation; (d) student assessment; (e) instructional analysis and systems management; (f) school law; and, (g) statistical and research foundations in teaching. Relevant technology is a curricular strand woven throughout the program's tapestry of course offerings. While substantive theory girds under the coursework content, students are encouraged to apply their conceptual and skill-based understandings toward practical applications within their schools.

Learning Organizations and Professional Development

Our definition of a learning organization is that the focus should be on learning, collaborative work, and self-accountability (DuFour, 2004). What is needed though is professional development opportunities for teachers, concentrating on requisite training and knowledge, since many in the school will find that traditional roles will become altered to reflect current organizational needs. Training in skills such as team building, problem solving, and critical thinking enhance the teachers' classroom functions in conjunction with aiding administrative duties. Knowledge is also needed for emergent roles in which teachers can assist school administrators. These include, but are not limited to, mentoring new staff, participating in collaborative decision-making, designing and developing new curricula, and conducting staff development offerings. Our teacher leader masters program provides this needed training and support and alters teacher's beliefs about what true professional development in schools should be. We go even further to help create transformational teacher leaders by assisting them in their educational settings.

Transformational leadership

Teacher leadership in today's schools is essential. Schools can no longer depend solely on the designated building administrator to sufficiently manage the academic and supervisory duties entailed in running an effective and efficient operation. Katzenmeyer and Moller (2001) contend that teachers are leaders within and beyond their classrooms. They know what is actually going on with student learning, what is happening in their classrooms, and have the most direct and frequent contact with parents. These roles are most meaningful though when the teacher is able to become a transformational leader and assist the school in becoming a learning organization. …

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