Reflection and Improvement
Teachers are very important people in life of every individual since they are one of the sources where he or she takes one’s knowledge. Therefore, teachers bear great responsibility and must improve their knowledge and skills and get new useful experience consistently. All teachers and especially teacher leaders should constantly be engaged in the self-improvement and self-reflection processes. Moreover, they should not only look for any possible opportunities for improvement within their classrooms, but also within their schools and even communities. Regular development and improvement will obviously result into effective leadership or at least self-development as a person and a teacher, better skills and new knowledge, and perfect communication and interaction with students. Thus, some areas of teacher leadership and the teaching practice itself always have a room for development and improvement.
One can define a certain range of new forms of teacher leadership that can support school transformation. For example, teachers may embrace new technologies and facilities. This form of teacher leadership takes much time and efforts; however, it is worth attention if everything goes as planned. The second way for a teacher to support school transformation is to create partnerships with the community. Working with the local people is a good way to improve school performance. However, a teacher may exceed his or her limits and start working with various organizations and businesses. This form of teacher leadership is rather beneficial for both parties. A school gets everything from constant support to financial resources, while an organization is guaranteed to get the best graduates as future employees. The next form is becoming a leader in the community, which provides a teacher and his/her school with support from the locals. If someone thinks that it is not very efficient, he/she may try to become politically involved.
In my opinion, the most interesting and educative form is an improvement in the use of technology and facilities. The reasons are that this form is not only useful for a school but also for a teacher. In addition, it will help the latter to gain even more respect from colleagues and students. Creating partnerships with the community is a rather simple and banal task. Therefore, it does not appeal to me at all; besides, this form does not provide any development for a teacher. Regarding working with organizations and businesses, I can state that it is rather a good form of teacher leadership because it may bring a lot of benefits for a school and students. Considering the last two forms, I can say that becoming a leader in the community is more appealing for me than becoming politically involved. Being a leader is an interesting, developmental and challenging activity, while being politically involved is simply having power and nothing more.
Regarding my leadership style, I can state that it is rather an autocratic one since it is typical of most teachers because they must show their position and be respected by students. To be fair, I have always thought that an autocratic leadership style is the best one since it gives a leader a lot of power and authority. However, this course helped me realize that the best possible leadership style is transactional. I believe that it is not only effective and suitable for teachers, but for any other leaders. An autocratic style is very restricted and does not have enough space for creativity. In contrast, being good at a transactional style, an individual will be able to use any other leadership style successfully. Besides, it is more effective because, according to this style, the behavior and decisions of a leader depend on a situation. Consequently, I have a strong desire to become perfectly good at a transactional leadership style.
As one can see, I am far from being a perfect and successful teacher leader and still need some particular improvements. In fact, there are lots of ways to improve one’s leadership skills. However, I believe that the following three ways fit me more than others. First and foremost, I need to get to know more about a transactional leadership style. Second, due to the fact that the latter includes all other leadership styles, I need to practice all forms of leadership techniques and become an experienced leader. Third, I believe that it is still very important to continue reading such useful business resources and journals as Forbes, for instance. I think this will help me to observe and analyze leadership styles and career paths of some prominent world known leaders. As a result, I will have more knowledge about peculiarities of various leadership styles that are extremely necessary for me.
One should remember that teaching is not simply guiding students; it is psychology first and foremost. Therefore, the first suggestion for professional development that will help to make other teachers more effective in their teaching practices is to learn and practice psychology. Indeed, it is important because being aware of some certain peculiarities of students’ psychological development will help to understand and communicate with them easier. The second recommendation is to show creativity. One cannot deny that creative thinking is a very significant aspect of teaching activity. It helps to create a specific approach to the job as a whole and to every student in particular, which makes a teacher a special one. Finally, the third suggestion is to learn; undoubtedly, teachers’ obligation is to teach students. However, they should learn as well; without constant learning, teachers can easily lose their ability to be successful in their profession. They also should not forget that they can learn something even from students.
In order to achieve effective learning, a teacher should promote students’ accountability and establish priorities that will help to achieve this goal. Promoting accountability is a very difficult task since a teacher needs to influence students psychologically. The first way is to motivate students. This way is the most important one because without motivation it is always difficult for any individual to accomplish a task. Therefore, a teacher must explain students why they need to learn effectively and what benefits it will bring them in the nearest future. If it is necessary, a teacher can establish a certain system of rewards. The second way to increase their feeling of responsibility is to interest them. If a student is interested in a subject, he or she will do everything possible in order to become good at this sphere. This way is very difficult because it requires good psychological skills and experience.
One can see that in order to sustain school transformation, there is a high need to create a theory of action. For instance, it will be better if there is a certain group responsible for ensuring the sustainability of school. Such group must be school-based; it will be even better if its members are teachers of the school. In fact, it is very comfortable because teachers will always get to know about all innovations and news that the group will introduce to the life of the school. Moreover, it will be much easier for teachers to follow innovations and rules if they take part in their creation. Such community can be the so-called generator of ideas; however, it can cooperate with some business or state organizations in order to get help from them in ensuring the sustainability of school transformation.
Despite the fact that this theory of action is rather good, some problems with its implementation can still arise. Basing on this theory of action, the community may face a non-agreement problem. In other words, one should realize that the more teachers are members of the group responsible for school transformation, the more opinions there will be. As a result, teachers may not come to any agreement, and it will create a lot of arguments. Consequently, the atmosphere of such a community will not be healthy. Therefore, it will not have any opportunity to work efficiently. The second problem may arise if those teachers being members of the group are not competent enough to make such decisions. In fact, this is a very serious problem because in this case such group will bring about only disadvantages rather than advantages to the school and its administration.
Despite the seriousness of the problems mentioned above, one can easily avoid them since they are foreseen. Regarding the first problem, one can state that there should be a good leader in the community. The leader must create a healthy atmosphere in the group and be the main authority in it. In case members of the group cannot come to an agreement due to different opinions or if they even start arguing, the leader can utilize an autocratic leadership style. The other problem can be solved by means of effective training of teachers. It will help them to be more competent in issues they have to deal with. These training will give group members more knowledge, skills and even experience. Again, as one can see, a good leader is needed even here. Indeed, to provide any training, a leader should decide what training is necessary for group members.
Taking into consideration the information mentioned above and the conducted analysis, one can see that teaching is a very responsible and rather difficult task. The main challenge lies in the fact that teachers work with people, and the human factor is a rather complex phenomenon. In addition, one should remember that teachers deal with different generations and should be able to communicate properly so that there are good and efficient relations between them and their students. Since teachers are a source of information that they kindly give to their students, they need to improve their knowledge and develop their skills constantly. The world does not stay at the same place; therefore, the knowledge that teachers obtain during their study at universities is never enough. Besides, psychology plays an important role in teaching. Consequently, there is always a room for improvement and development in the sphere of psychology as well. Teachers like people of any other profession should always long for development and improvement, especially if they want to become leaders.