Teachers play various roles and use different problem-solving skills to help their students every day. Although they’re not always in a classroom, teacher leaders do much the same thing in their work, using diverse skills to help foster an environment that promotes learning.
An online curriculum and instruction master’s degree program from Youngstown State University equips graduates with the knowledge to be teacher leaders, whether at the school, state or district level. These critical skills include fostering an equitable staff culture, furthering professional training and implementing evidence-based strategies.
Teacher Leader Roles
Teacher leader roles exist from the school level up to the state level. Some typical roles include:
- Grade level leader
- Program coordinator
- District leader
- State leader
These jobs share the primary objective of developing a core curriculum and learning atmosphere that is responsive and effective for students and faculty. However, the way each position carries out that goal is different, often using the same problem-solving skills in a variety of ways. Advancing to teacher leader positions offers benefits for educators interested in working outside of classroom settings. A post from the Opportunity Culture education initiative shows that new teacher leader roles are being developed all the time, designed by schools to suit their individual needs.
What Problem-Solving Skills Look Like
A 2020 post from the job board website Indeed lists eight abilities that are generally considered professional problem-solving skills:
- Active listening
- Team building
It’s worth examining what some of these skills might look like in the context of a teacher leader’s responsibilities.
In a blog post for the George Lucas Education Foundation, writer Maurice J. Elias outlines seven key components of a successful leader, one of which is empowerment. Active listening is a critical part of empowering a team. By participating in discussions, leaders demonstrate interest and encourage future conversations. More importantly, they gain tangible takeaways based on the experiences and ideas shared by individual members. For example, a grade-level leader or program coordinator can glean real insight into the intersection of data-based strategies. with actual classroom results by consulting the teachers who execute them.
The needs of every school, even every classroom, are different and thorough analysis is often the best way for leadership to observe patterns and other takeaways using data and evidence. Analysis helps to make sense of data and use it to help develop new understandings of specific groups or trends. When applied correctly, it can help teacher leaders at the state and district levels evaluate which strategies are effective or ineffective for various demographics and settings.
A 2020 post from the Curriculum Leadership Institute about the importance of teacher leaders states, “One of their most important responsibilities is facilitating the lines of communication among all parties.” It is crucial to ensure that communication flows well when working to bring disparate elements together for a greater goal, given the complexities inherent in education systems. Effective communication helps set expectations, fosters dialogue and increases efficiency.
As with any field, research is constantly uncovering new information about the teaching profession. It is incumbent for teacher leaders at any level to seek out this information. By staying up to date, teacher leaders can learn from the experiences of other schools and districts or develop new ideas based on research, among other things. Staying abreast of new ideas and trends helps teacher leaders hone curricula to best serve evolving student and faculty needs.