Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Emerging Leader: Teaching Leadership

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Emerging Leader: Teaching Leadership

Article excerpt

Rebecca Cheung is academic coordinator of the Principal Leadership Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. Before that she was a middle-school principal, an elementary school principal, and a classroom teacher.

You attended the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City. What did you learn there that was important to your contributions as a teacher and now as a leader?

I studied piano at Julliard in the precollege division for four years. It was an extremely competitive and intense environment. On the other hand, it gave me a firsthand experience of high-quality arts education. We didn't read books, write papers, and listen to lectures. Instead, we enrolled in ear training, performed, and attended peer performances where we had the opportunity to observe and learn from each other.

At Julliard, all keyboard majors also had to participate in chorus so they would have experience playing in an ensemble. This was an important leadership lesson for me. Being a teacher is often like playing the piano, a solo instrument. Being a leader is learning how to play with others and conduct an ensemble.

When you last wrote for Kappan four years ago, the subject was teacher burnout. Since then we've seen even more focus brought on teacher turnover rates, especially among new teachers. What are the latest thoughts you've had on what school leaders can do to keep promising teachers in the profession?

I still believe that school leaders have an important role in sustaining teacher commitment and combatting teacher burnout. In the last few years there has been a strong antiteacher narrative driven by Alms like "Bad Teacher" and by many politicians and citizens who choose to focus on schools as the only solution to all of society's struggles. …

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