The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on education. With sudden school shutdowns, shifts to online learning and educational inequities exacerbated, school teachers and leaders were essentially thrown into the thick of a storm with very little preparation.
Consequently, teacher leadership is more important than ever before, and the pandemic has dramatically altered concepts of what constitutes teacher leadership. As schools adapt to the “new normal,” it will be imperative for them to establish strategies for fostering teacher leadership that looks different than before.
The Youngstown State University (YSU) Master of Science in Education – Teacher Leader – Curriculum and Instruction – Teacher Leader online program can help prepare students for a future as a leader in education settings.
The pandemic has prompted administrators to focus leadership energies on collaborative, shared and collective leadership practices. While traditional leadership practices rely on administrators to act as individual leaders, distributed leadership practices engage others in activity and practice. Given the disparate nature of remote education, teacher leaders are now seen as equal partners in school leadership.
Distributed leadership relies on teacher mobilization to lead through collective action. Therefore, teachers need to have a seat at the table when making big decisions. School leadership will need to continue to decentralize themselves as schools readjust and reopen.
Research suggests distributed leadership models increase pathways and opportunities for teachers to exercise leadership. Teachers’ voices should be elevated when developing policies and establishing practices in general, not only during times of crisis. As the primary point of contact and most situated observer for students, teachers must share crucial input to build capacity and support student development. Teacher leaders are the future of education, and their feedback and intervention will be at the center of change.
NPR reports teachers have reached a breaking point during the COVID-19 pandemic. The stress of teaching remotely during a global pandemic requires self-awareness and self-care. However, self-care for teachers is more difficult than ever, as the pandemic is a seemingly inescapable threat to livelihoods, well-being and safety for all school community members. At the very least, the pandemic has highlighted that teachers need more social and emotional support to best help their students. Teachers cannot and should not always be expected to meet their own social and emotional needs alone.
As they navigate the new landscape of education, institutions must empower teacher leaders to meet their colleagues’ social-emotional needs. Teacher leaders take on responsibilities alongside their peers. They understand their colleagues’ anxieties and struggles and minimize staff anxiety and empower other teachers in their schools.
According to recent research, the well-being of teachers is most likely to prosper when they are engaged in meaningful, collaborative professionalism that brings them closer to their coworkers. Teacher leaders are trained to not only help their peers professionally but also to inspire and support them.
Teacher Leader Preparation
The future of education will rely more heavily on teacher leaders. Therefore, they must receive the training and knowledge necessary to support their schools and districts. The Ohio Department of Education stresses the importance of rigorous training in leadership skills and practices for teacher leaders. Effective teacher leadership training programs must prepare teachers to promote equitable, collaborative school cultures; implement evidence-based strategies to improve their schools; and make effective, data-based decisions to drive change.
Programs like YSU’s Master of Science in Education – Teacher Education – Curriculum and Instruction – Teacher Leader online program offer the training required to do this meaningful and impactful work. In fact, YSU’s M.S.Ed. program is the only education program of this type aligned with the Ohio Department of Education Standards for the Lead Professional Educator License.
For educators looking to supplement their professional development in this area, YSU also offers an online endorsement program in Teacher Leadership that fulfills one of the major licensing credentials for teacher leadership.
Journal of Professional Capital and Community:
COVID-19 — School Leadership in Crisis?
School Leadership During a Pandemic: Navigating Tensions
Ohio Department of Education:
Ohio Teacher Leadership Process Model Resource
Senior Professional Educator and Lead Professional Educator Licenses