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What do we mean by leadership?

This is a more difficult question than you might at first think. If someone says they word ‘leadership’ to you, what do you first think of?

In my experience at least, for many teachers in Scotland the answer is ‘promotion’. We say things like ‘I’m not interested in leadership by which we mean ‘I’m not interested in promotion. But when you stop and think about it, that’s not what leadership means at all. We’ve all worked with classroom teachers who were great leaders of practice and we’ve all worked with young people who demonstrate fantastic leadership attributes. I like the following definition from a recent book chapter by Forde & Dickson (2017):

Leadership is an interactional process where influence and power are exercised in different ways, in different locations by different people across an organisation.

Given my job these days is supporting the development of ‘teacher leadership’ I find that we often need to begin by discussing the fact that great teachers demonstrate aspects of leadership in their role day in, day out. Here’s an example of this very conversation in action:

The question then becomes, how do you go about supporting the growth of leadership in teachers? If you’re a teacher in Scotland, SCEL has a growing offering. Firstly, there’s our *free* online framework for educational leadership. This has recently been enhanced and can be used to support teachers to develop leadership in their practice. You can even now download a record of your professional learning from the framework for uploading into your professional learning profile. Check it out now: scelframework.com

We also have a Teacher Leadership Programme on offer. This is free for teachers in Scottish schools and supports and challenges participants to take an enquiring approach to developing practice in their classrooms. We have been prototyping the programme this session and we are currently recruiting for an expanded cohort next session. If you would like to know more about this, including how to apply, check out our website. You can also keep up to date with our support for teacher leadership by joining our Teacher Leadership Network in Yammer.

In the meantime, one other way of course to develop your leadership as a teacher is to get involved in communities such as Pedagoo, TeachMeet and #ScotEdChat…why not begin by checking out the one and only #PedagooFriday today!


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