The «New» Foundations of Teacher Education – A Reader – Revised edition
Edited By Eleanor Blair
11. The Time Is Ripe (Again)
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The Time Is Ripe (Again)
Roland S. Barth
Is this a promising time for teacher leadership? As someone who’s been in education for 50 years, serving as both a teacher and a principal, I’ve found that it’s always been a promising time for teacher leadership. It’s just never been a successful time. It’s never happened on a wider scale.
So what continues to stand in the way of teachers assuming serious leadership of schools? Five obstacles strike me as the most inhibiting.
First, many principals need to control what goes on in school. Principals are ultimately responsible. If I, as a principal, delegate or accept a teacher’s leadership of something and it goes badly—say, staff development or developing the science curriculum—the superintendent isn’t going to call that teacher. He or she is going to call me. So I have to be really careful about relinquishing control. And most principals just don’t want to relinquish it.
There’s also a taboo in our profession against one teacher elevating himself or herself above the others. You see it with merit-pay discussions, but you also see it when one teacher takes responsibility for something in the school and the other teachers are just worrying about their own 30 kids. The teacher who takes a leadership role can expect to be punished by fellow teachers.
It’s just a very leveling profession. Teachers...
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