Teachers are natural born leaders, but can sometimes feel trapped within the classroom. Usually, teachers looking to lead have one potential prospect: principal. In today’s school system it’s not just about becoming the school principal anymore. Whether you strive to be a reading coach, special education teacher, or school music director these career boosting ideas will help you achieve your goals. Remember, you’re at the head of the class so get out there and show it.
1. Know your technology tools and how to use them.
In todays teaching world, being a top teacher means that you know how to use all the latest technology. There have been many advances other than cable in the classroom in the last five years that can help you teach better. Learn how to use the internet, and not just how to forward funny emails. Teachers should have a list of educational links their students can use and know how to search the internet. Learn about interactive white boards and computer programs that can help you teach better. If you are looking for a technology boot camp, go to http://www.intel.com/education.
2. Run a Competition or Contest
Covering a contest or competition is a great way to get students involved in learning while highlighting your leadership attributes. Try covering National History Day, a poetry writing contest, or a science exploration competition. National Geographic and Scholastic Magazine often have great ideas on contests for teachers and schools. Try to give away something more meaningful than candy, like reading materials and math games for your students.
3. Raise Money for Your School
If you show them the money it will definitely put you a step ahead of the rest. Apply for grants and scholarships on your schools or students behalf. Often, the government offers athletic, arts, and historical grants to schools and teachers for many purposes. Start a fundraiser to bring awareness to your programs and join the Parent Teacher Association. The PTA, after all is for teachers too. Money that you get for your school can become a welcome teaching tool for much needed supplies and programming.
4. Put Your Name in Print
For teacher would be authors it is best to share your knowledge with the world. Write a how to article on your best thanksgiving craft and send it to a magazine. Write children’s books to tell your hair-raising tales of teaching. If you are looking for inspiration try reading Phillip Done’s book “32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny”. This book was written by a third grade teacher in California. Submit mathematical games and reading incentives to online and print publishers.
5. Make Your Voice Heard
If you want to see improvement in your school you have to get out there and do something about it. Attend school board meetings and send mailings to parents, or a letter to the local newspaper. If you feel there is something that needs to be changed, do not be afraid to say so. After all, you are leader and it is your position to show everyone the way. Even if you are opposing the popularity people will see you are a true leader because you stand up for what you believe in even if everyone doesn’t agree.
6. Keep the Good Stuff
You know the letters and cards you get from students and teachers when you are having a gum in your hair, crying kid in the classroom day that just make you happy to be a teacher? Keep them and file them away. Letters of approval from students and parents, as well as the school board or principal are proof of your talents. When you want something later on, it will be much easier to get it if you can back up your prior accomplishments. Embrace the part of leader-teacher and your community will thank you.
7. Run or Walk for a Good Cause
Organize a teacher team to run or walk for a good cause or local charity. Invite students and their families to make their own teams. Relay for Life, and the Race for the Cure are two such events that a teacher can organize on their own. This is a great time to focus on your leadership skills and create exposure for not only your school, but yourself.
8. Start a Professional Study Group
Start a bi-weekly or weekly study group with your colleagues and other teachers. Invite them once or twice per month to discuss professional literature like “Brain Based Learning and Teaching” (Diane Connell). Focus on skills you can all learn to help improve your teaching and your student’s grades. Teachers should be constantly learning and passing it on, so this is a great way to teach each other. Again, you are creating an opportunity to highlight your professional leadership skills.
9. Get Nationally Certified
The National Board Certification is one of the best door openers a teacher can have. It can take several months to get your National Board Certification but it is worth every minute of it. The complete application includes a two part portfolio submission, but you can make the process faster by choosing option 1 to submit only one half of the portfolio. For more information, go to the National Board of Teaching Standards at http://www.nbpts.org.
10. Take the Lead at Meetings
First, go to http://www.parlipro.com and learn the basic parliamentary procedures. Next speak to your principal about volunteering during the weekly staff meetings to keep everyone on track. Explain how you plan to use the procedures and how it will improve meetings. Make sure that you mention at the end of the week everyone is tired and ready to go home to rest and you will help keep the meeting on time and the subject on track.