Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Leading beyond the Classroom

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Leading beyond the Classroom

Article excerpt

Science and science education have had many great leaders, some of whom may not have thought of themselves as leaders while engaged in their work. This holds true for many teachers, who think they do not have the time or experience to be a great leader. However each educator can offer something to not only his or her students but also to colleagues beyond the classroom. The following list provides some of the top leadership opportunities for teachers.

Mentoring: Mentors establish a personal relationship with a new teacher to give him or her guidance in issues such as instruction, curriculum, and classroom management. Helping a new teacher get started in our profession is one of the most rewarding leadership roles, and it is just as stimulating for the veteran teacher as it is for the new teacher. Sometimes the new teacher can challenge the way things have always been done and help you begin to look at old practices in a new way. For the new teacher, having someone who can give advice and even just listen is priceless. As with all leaders, it is important that the mentor enters the relationship with an open mind and a willingness to think outside of the box--mentoring is certainly a two-way street!

Department chair/team leader: In some schools, teachers in these positions take on administrative duties and in others, they serve as a conduit between the administration and the specific department or team. Either way, being a department chair/team leader provides insight on how your school works as a whole system; it also allows for the opportunity to assist in helping both the administration understand teachers' needs and the teachers to see the confines the administration must often work within.

Planning district or schoolwide science activities: Making science come alive outside of the classroom--through science fairs and family science nights for example--is fun and rewarding for both teachers and students. Informal science settings allow students to see that science is used outside of the classroom. You might organize a science night for younger students and their parents as a school fund-raiser or start an after-school science club. The skills needed to get involved in informal science activities are ones that most teachers already possess: a love of their subject area and science, willingness to work with students, and a desire to create an interest in science for the next generation. …

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