In order to improve education, our teachers need to exemplify the leadership qualities. These include being approachable and communicative, passionate, committed, and innovative.
Great leaders are approachable, and that is a quality teachers need to embrace. Now there are times when we don't want to be approachable at all, more so with parents than with students. We would like to hide from our phones and email, go into a cave, and just teach. The reality is that great leaders and teachers should be approachable. To teach, you need your students to feel comfortable asking you questions. Otherwise, you will find yourself in the situation where students have been working for thirty minutes on an assignment, and they have nothing done because they were too afraid to ask you what to do.
The same is true with the parents of your students. Parents need to feel comfortable asking you questions, even when you may have already sent out the information via email, parent newsletter, and website. It is always better to let them ask and say it again because when parents aren't in the communication loop, the person who suffers most is your students.
Communicative is another quality of great leaders, and it should be of teachers. Leaders communicate well with those around them so that everyone knows what is going on and the goals of any project. In education, teachers should be the primary source of information about what is going on with their child and within your school. Parents need to be aware of what's happening in your classroom whether it pertains to the entire class, or is specific to their child. Sometimes this means calling or emailing parents to communicate smaller issues before they turn into a larger issue. Another communication strategy used by listening, and focusing on being empathetic toward your students and parents. Even when the parent or child may be in the wrong, leaders use empathy to help communicate more effectively.
Great leaders energize those around them with their passion, which is why people gravitate towards them and are willing to follow their lead. Teachers are leaders and should spread their passion around their classrooms as well to engage their students. The easiest place for teachers to put this leadership skill into practice is to show passion in the content they are teaching. Now, great leaders in your community may not be jazzed about every idea they have to share with those around them, but they channel their passion and sell the idea anyway. As teachers, we don't necessarily love everything we teach. However, we can find ways to be passionate about it and engage our students. Sometimes it is just a matter of how you approach the topic.
Think about it this way. Let's say you have to teach a topic that bores you to no end - say the cell theory in a science class. A great leader may not be passionate about a meeting about sales figures, but he finds a way to be passionate about it when he needs to. Teachers may have to find a way to frame the content within an activity you enjoy. For example, if you hate cell theory but love music, have your students conduct research and write parodies of their favorite songs. You may not be passionate about the content itself, but the idea of having karaoke in your class might be something you can get passionate about. Channel your leadership skills.
Commitment is another quality great leaders demonstrate. The iconic image of this is the generals leading their men into devastating battles, but teachers need this quality as well. Leaders know that great changes in the community often start with a small number of committed individuals. If teachers don't have the commitment, it is very hard to give your students your best every day. Let alone make the changes we need in education to improve the education system for all students.
Finally, if you look around at the great leaders in the world, they are innovative. That means they are creative in how they approach problems and design solutions. Innovative leaders can survive the ups and downs of living in our modern society. Teachers also need to possess the quality of being innovative.
Approach it this way. Teachers work in a challenging situation. Often they have few resources and students with significant challenges ranging from social to academic. It is no wonder so many teachers run away from the profession every year. However, innovative leaders embrace this challenge. Teachers can be innovative leaders. There have been schools on the verge of being taken over by the state, and it was the innovative ideas of teachers that turned the school around. Innovative leaders don't just rely on their ideas, the use the creativity and resourcefulness of those around them to solve problems and implement solutions. Without the innovative leadership qualities of teachers, we can't hope to improve education for all students.