Action Hero Teacher
Why Every Classroom Needs a Teacher Leader
The way that you are doing classroom management is wrong. But it's not your fault.
Some of you just spat out your tea. Some of you are reading these words and thinking, "What's wrong with this Karl fella? What has he been inhaling?"
Hear me out for a sec. Our school system was designed over 100 years ago for a very different time to the one we live in today. Our school system was designed in a time that people used horses for transportation and Britannia ruled the waves.
This just won't cut it with our students anymore. Your attempts will go over your students' heads like Harry Kane's penalty went over the French crossbar in the World Cup.
Have you been watching the news lately? Escalating wars, the cost of living dangerously increasing, and a grave economy matched with the inevitable rise of artificial intelligence make this one of the most uncertain times in modern history.
And dagnabit, our kids know this.
Educators, if we are really going to engage and motivate our 21st-century learners, we need 'power-up' how we do classroom management. We need to morph from teachers into teacher-leaders.
In this brief blog, I will explain:
1) What is a teacher leader
2) The benefits of teacher leadership
3) What it looks like in your day-to-day classrooms
Trés bonne. Let us continue.
What is a Teacher Leader?
Especially in the American school system, several definitions are knocking around the Internet, but because I'm a rebel, I'm to come up with my own.
I define a teacher leader as an individual who combines their ability to teach their chosen subject or year group with the ability to influence their students, peers and even their local community through their interpersonal skills, vision and care.
In a previous blogpost, I spoke at length about the 3 teaching styles that you should absolutely avoid if you want to keep your students' on your side. To recap, classroom management styles sit on a spectrum between 'authority' and 'warmth.'
In our parents' (or even grandparents' time) deference to authority was much higher than it is now. For many reasons that I don't have the time to cover here, the lines between those in authority and those who are governed have become increasingly blurred.
Our 21st Century students are incredibly sensitive to how they are treated just as much as what they are being taught. If you come down too hard on them like Darth Vader or are too soft like Pee Wee Herman, you will be in a world full of hurt.
Teacher leaders sit in the 'goldilocks' area of classroom leadership. They carry a Batman's utility belt of interpersonal tools, allowing them to deal with almost any situation their classrooms throw at them.
Lastly, a teacher leader doesn't have to be 'just' a 'teacher.' Support staff, LSAs, cover supervisors, speech and language therapists and just about anyone who works with young people can become 'teacher leaders.' It's a mindset, not a role.
What does a teacher-leader do in their everyday classrooms?
Great question! Here's what they do:
Have the ability to set effective ground rules with clear sanctions and rewards and can consistently and fairly apply them
Teacher-leaders set a vision for their students that inspires them to engage with their learning
Teacher leaders build robust and resilient classroom relationships with their students, allowing them to understand their needs and adapt their lessons accordingly.
Teacher leaders understand how to emotionally 'coach' their students, using their lessons as an opportunity not only to help their students' grades but build up their character
Teacher leaders build strong interpersonal relationships with other education professionals allowing them to leverage their relationships to help deal with challenging students
They are the 'emotional bellwethers of their class - meaning they model the correct ways of behaving, showing respect, and dealing with conflict in a responsible and effective way
Teacher leaders find creative and innovative ways to engage their students and this helps their self-esteem, wellbeing and, yes their grades too.
What are the Benefits of Teacher Leadership?
Enhanced Student Engagement: Emotionally intelligent teachers can connect with their students deeper, building trust and rapport, leading to increased classroom engagement. When students feel seen and heard, they're more likely to be invested in their learning.
Improved Classroom Culture: Emotional intelligence helps teachers create a positive, supportive classroom environment that promotes a sense of belonging and well-being for all students. This leads to a more enjoyable and productive learning experience for everyone.
Increased Resilience: Emotionally intelligent teachers are better equipped to manage stress and handle challenging situations. By maintaining their composure, they can lead by example and model resilience for their students, promoting a culture of grit and determination that benefits everyone in the classroom.
There you have it!
You might be thinking, "Karl, that sound's fantastic, but honestly, that's a lot to learn.
I absolutely agree hence why I've done a lot of the heavy lifting for you.
I believe we are living through one of the most remarkable periods in Human History. The COVID pandemic was just the beginning & things will never return to normal.
Our students are called 'Generation Z and Generation Alpha' - & they have a front-row ticket to these radical changes in our world. The 'old-skool' ways of teaching are done.
Grab my FREE eBook "Teaching Generation Z" to give in-depth analysis and practical tips that will help you inspire your students & take your teaching to the next level.
Just add your name and email address in the form below to get your free eBook now!
Thank you for reading!
Karl from actionheroteacher.com