I am a passionate educator who strongly believes that every child can learn. In that same mindset, I believe every educator is responsible for fostering an environment in which learning can take place at its highest level. Educators are the facilitators of learning. We are the conduits through which our students receive what they need. Therefore, we have to be on our top game, ready to engage, inspire, and initiate learning that takes our students to a deeper level of strategic thinking and understanding.

 

I recently attended a conference with several educators. The conversations that took place during the breakout sessions were enthralling! We shared our struggles, successes, and concerns. We shared valuable resources with each other and listened as teachers, counselors, and administrators shared their experiences. Repeatedly I observed seasoned teachers and new teachers sharing a similar need…to be supported. Not by the administration, or their district, but by each other. Over and over again, I listened as the teachers around me said how much they had learned just by listening to each other and sharing resources and experiences. They valued the input of their peers. We are not meant to be islands alone in our quest for student achievement.

 

We are leaders! Often times we use our voices to express the things we don’t like, the things we want to see change. However, it’s not enough to simply voice the changes.We need to be willing to initiate them, model the change, support it, and encourage it! We are mentors whether we carry the official title or not. However, we cannot impact our students or fellow teachers if we don’t look at ourselves, first. We need to look at our strengths. How can I use my strengths to empower or offer support to my students and my fellow educators?  

 

I am an advocate. I advocate for students, families, and fellow educators. With an advocate’s mindset, I look for students or fellow educators who need my support, guidance, or encouragement. It is my strength. I am perceptive and have a strong sense of service to the people around me. It is what motivates me to learn and grow each day to be better than I was the day before. I am continuously looking for innovative ways to inspire learning, create thoughtful discussions among my students, and accurately assess their learning. This search empowers me to be ready, full of information and resources which then allows me to support my students as well as my fellow educators.

 

As educators, we often find ourselves in a place where we need guidance. It is in this place where we need teacher leaders to step in and bring their expertise to the table. We ALL have strengths, something we feel confident in. I am confident in my ability to observe and identify needs in students. I also feel confident in my ability to search for resources which will aide in the areas I have identified. However, I lack good organizational skills. This is my area of weakness and where I need support. I often ask for help in this area of my teaching. I am so thankful to the teacher leaders around me who help me find better ways to organize my life in the classroom. Without their leadership and support, I fear I would be living in chaos! We need teacher leaders who will share their expertise.

 

Strength-Based Leadership

How can you use your strengths to lead? Teacher leaders have qualities that inspire leadership in others. They identify their strengths and are willing to share their knowledge with those around them. They also openly admit when they need help and look to their professional learning network for ideas that will help them grow.

 

When we create a dialogue that initiates, models, and encourages educators to work together, we all win. We are collectively leading each other into a future where support, empathy, encouragement, and a growth mindset are established as not just an expectation but a reality. How wonderful for our students who are watching us and modeling their learning behaviors based on what they see us doing.

 

Our voice is powerful, and our ability to lead with an advocate’s mindset is crucial if we truly want to create an environment in which learning can take place at its highest level.

 


Liz Savage is a passionate elementary teacher in Cabot, AR and author of REdefined: Becoming a Fearlessly Unique Teacher in a Traditional World. Follow her on Twitter at @SavageLizabeth, and for more information check out savageteacher.com.

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