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Teacher Leadership

The «New» Foundations of Teacher Education – A Reader – Revised edition


Edited By Eleanor Blair

Teacher leadership as a dimension of teachers’ work has never been more important. This topic has emerged as a major component of both state and national standards, and as such, it is included in most contemporary teacher education programs. Three decades of research have focused on teacher leadership as an essential element of school improvement, but its relationship to the potential transformation of the teaching profession remains unexplored. This revised edition of Teacher Leadership: The «New» Foundations of Teacher Education provides an overview of the scholarship being done in the field and a framework for questions and discussions regarding the sustainability of teacher leadership efforts. In this edition, each of the five sections is accompanied by an introduction and reflection questions on the various issues related to teachers acting as leaders in classrooms, schools and communities. The book opens with a completely new section that presents scholarship related to teacher leadership and social justice, where the role of ideology in the work of teacher leaders is considered. This book includes the work of over thirty authors and is an essential tool for guiding dialogue regarding the various facets of teacher leadership and its impact on school culture, student learning and professional learning communities within the context of twenty-first century school reform. Teacher Leadership: The «New» Foundations of Teacher Education – A Reader is intended for undergraduate and graduate education students.
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12. Teacher Leadership: Overcoming “I Am Just a Teacher” Syndrome


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Teacher Leadership

Overcoming “I Am Just a Teacher” Syndrome

Valeri R. Helterbran

Eighteen Master of Education students sat in a class titled “Teacher Leadership” pondering how they could possibly be teacher leaders. One offered, “But my principal is our leader. He leads. I follow.” Another said, “Teacher leadership is just a theory, I believe. It does not exist in real life—at least not in my school.” A third said, “I think I have some leadership qualities, but I am just a teacher.”

“I am just a teacher.” This mantra is embraced by legions of teachers across the land. Principals lead; teachers follow. And so it goes. The guiding principles of teacher leadership date to antiquity and received renewed interest in the twentieth century. Over 60 years ago, Bahn (1947) charged administrators with the task of “exploring abilities, releasing creative powers, tapping experiences, and, consequently, developing the quality of teacher leadership” (p. 155). In addition, numerous reform efforts in the 1980s and 1990s recommended “teacher leadership” as a mechanism for widespread reform. Wasley (1991), too, almost two decades ago, led a clarion call for the necessity of teacher leadership and shared decision-making in school improvement. She rightly acknowledged, however, that the body of literature was absent in supporting this concept. Twenty years later, a body of literature has been developed and continues to grow, yet it is poorly understood and only intermittently practiced...

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