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Awakening Myself

By Weiyan Xia
ECI 508
What I have read about leadership
From Learning By Heart
There is not only one way to view the world. Sometimes we need to consider
from a different perspective, to think otherwise (Barth, 2002, p.2), to be
among the reformers inside our school to make it a better place to work and
study at. To change the school, the most important and most difficult work is
to change the dominating culture that impedes the development (Barth,
2002, p. 7). We need to have the courage to bring in more positive and
passionate elements to replace the negative parts of the culture. If we want
our school to change to the direction that we desire, we ourselves need to
head toward that direction first. Being a teacher leader is followed by the
responsibilities. When working as a teacher leader, we can use reflection and
refraction to summarize and internalize our own and other teachers craft
knowledge for future application. As learners in the community of school, we
should be aware that the way to learn is by leading; the way to lead is by
learning (Barth, 2002, p. 82), and he also argued that all teachers have
leadership potential (p. 85). It is not necessary to become a principal to be a
teacher leader. To be willing to take the risks and the responsibilities, and also
to share the value and vision of the school, we are ready to explore our
potential to be teacher leaders.
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From Awakening the Sleeping Giant


Teacher leaders lead both within and beyond the classroom; they commit
themselves to the building of community of learners and leaders; they affect
people around them to embrace their difference and empower them to
improve; they are willing to accept the responsibilities and work hard toward
the goal. Promoting teacher leadership will benefit not only the teachers, also
the schools. To cultivate more teacher leaders, school should provide
continuous professional development. Teachers should also be aware of their
own potential to be teacher leaders. The school principals need to build a
culture to support all existing and potential teacher leaders to gain a better
future of the schools. There are still some challenges for the development of
teacher leadership, but it should not stop teachers to become teacher
leaders. Sometimes, it is ok to step back from the leadership if you cannot
keep the balance between your work and your life.
From 13 Steps to Teach Empowerment
This book provides plenty of adaptable strategies to practice as teacher
leaders by steps. It teaches to be a teacher leader, we need to start from our
own expertise to be updated about our own field and expand beyond this
field; to try to understand more and deeper about our students; to do
research relevant with your field and with your students and share your
results; to welcome suggestions from and offer advice to colleagues, but
remember to start gently (Zemelman & Ross, 2009, p. 49); differentiate the
place of talking about different issues and topics; to collaborate with teacher
from other disciplines; to advocate and make your voice heard with adequate
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research as the supporting foundation; to reach out to get more support from
the committee, parents and other grant, and bound together with partners to
work more effectively. This book can be used as a good resource of activities
or as a self-help checklist to be a teacher leader.
From Managing Oneself
We live in a world full of opportunities, and it depends on you whether you
will reach the top of your profession or stay where you are all the time, and
even get sifted out by more capable others. To be able to take these
opportunities, we need to be able to manage ourselves to acquire answers for
three major questions: (1). What are my strengths? We should make the best
use of and keep improving our advantages and save energy on the
disadvantages. Feedback analysis is a good way for ourselves to examine our
own advantage and disadvantages. Ones manner and relationships help
create the culture of a community. To be a teacher leader, we should cultivate
ourselves to be socially literate to respect and embrace the different
perspectives and personalities. (2). How do I perform? Everyone performs in a
unique way. It is a matter of personality. (Drucker, 2005, p. 103) To be a
teacher leader, we need to observe and find out the characteristics of our
colleagues to work with them more efficiently and effectively, either as
adviser or decision maker, or other roles in the team. (3). What are my
values? It is easier to form a team with people who have the same or similar
values, ideals and beliefs. To keep up with the development of the society
and the organization we are working at, we need to keep improve ourselves,
not only in our own content area, also with other aspects, to make ourselves
valuable not only on one thing.
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From Teacher of the Year and Angie


Angie is a very passionate teacher, who loves her job, cares about her
students, both their learning and lives, and cares about the welfare of the
community. When she feels that there is something not right, she is fearless
to stand out and shout out. She is smart because she knows that the power
of one person can never be strong than the power of a united group.
Therefore, she inspires other teachers, within and beyond her school, and
gets their support and help to advocate her stance. She also has very good
strategies to help students regulate themselves which saves her working
time and energy and manages more planning time for her. She is a good
model for us all. Even though we have the different definition of democracy in
China, but we can work toward this direction within our school first.
My Definition of Teacher Leadership
Teacher leadership doesnt mean that you must be on a formal position at
your school with the letter of appointment from the school board or the
principal. There are two kind of teacher leader, formal with formal leading
position in the organizational structure of the school and informal, without
formal leading position in the structure but still leading a group of people,
teachers or students, working on a common goal professionally. There are
some critical qualities for teacher leaders, including visionary, approachable,
open-minded, being expert in the field, good at communication and
observation, good at interpersonal skills and able to maintain positive
personal relationship with colleagues, empowering and supportive, and
willing to accept the responsibilities. Teacher leaders are important elements
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and factors that influence the development of a school. Every teacher has the
potential to be a teacher leader but they need to first prepare themselves
academically, professionally, and mentally. Teacher leaders are not born; they
learn how to lead by observing and learning from the experience of other
leaders. It is always a hard topic for teacher leaders to maintain the balance
between their lives and work. Sometimes, teacher leaders would have to step
back from leadership to avoid the collapse of their world.
Plan of Action
To be honest, I dont want to consider myself as a teacher leader even
though I was a teacher leader before I came here to pursue my Masters
Degree, because if you consider yourself as a teacher leader, it brings up a
series of consequences, mostly not so good. But things start to change now.
Be Determined
Making a decision and become determined will be my first step to be a
teacher leader. A community is like a ship. Everyone ought to be prepared
to take the helm. (Pockell & Avila, 2007, p. 101) Previously at the beginning
of this course, I said that I never considered myself as a leader not because
that I am humble, but because I was worried about the side-effects of being a
teacher leader, such as more working time, less personal time; more duties
and responsibilities; more pressure and misunderstanding from your
colleagues, etc. But after I did the teacher leadership interview and read all
these books, I figured that these things would exist anyway no matter you are
a teacher leader or not. To overcome them, you need to confront them first. If
I dont try, I will never know what outcome it will really bring. Therefore I
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decided to call up my courage and step forward when the school needs me. If
the school doesnt need me for the formal leader, I will start in my small
world-the classroom.
Grab the Opportunities
We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: If youve got ambition and
smarts, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession, regardless of where
you started out. (Drucker, 2005, p. 100) Barth (2002) also told us that
everyone deserves an opportunity for school leadership (p. 85). But when
the opportunity comes, whether you can take it depends on whether you are
prepared for it.
Improve Myself
As a Chinese saying goes, Opportunity always falls on those who prepare
well. Prepare yourself, and then the opportunities will reveal themselves for
you. My school, Beijing Royal School, provides a lot of chances of professional
training and development and our principal, Mr. Wang, always supports
teachers to do so. Other than these, I will read and practice to improve my
own classroom teaching and to keep myself informed within the area of ELA
teaching.
Get a Vision
Being visionary is one of the characteristics and qualities of teacher leaders.
If I want to form a team, I first need to have a clear vision about our team,
the goals, the strategies, the resources, the common rules and other issues
to keep our team sustainable and developing. For me, as an ELA teacher, I
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will start from the classroom teaching to introduce more teaching methods to
my colleagues and modify them to fit Chinese ESL students, to organize
workshop to seek for better solutions of problems with our teaching, and
reach out to get more resource and professional support to improve
ourselves.
Let My Voice Be Heard
Comparing with what we learned here and what is happening right now in
Beijing Royal School, I feel that there is something that needs to be changed
to make our school a better community for the students and a better working
place for teachers. I will start from my opinion about student self-regulation,
and I will collaborate with my colleagues who are studying here with me to do
some research, survey among the teachers and students to make the
foundation of our proposal so that it can be approved. There is a long way to
go, but just like a saying said, he who will climb the ladder must begin at the
bottom, and we need to start to take actions first.
Collaborate with Other Teachers
Chinese people usually say that a capable is aided by three mates, which
means you will be achieve remarkable results when you get help from the
people around you. That is true. We are living in a world consisting of various
relationships, and very few people work by themselves and achieve results
by themselves (Drucker, 2005, p. 107). When we are working, our work will
touch the nerve of people around us. If we can get their support and help, it
will be easier for us to gain our goals. Therefore, as a teacher leader, I will not
restrain myself in my own mini-world (the classroom). Instead, I will stretch
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out to our teachers either in the same discipline area or different ones to
support them, or be supported by them, or to collaborate together. I am also
aware that not all the teachers would be willing to be bothered by teachers
like me, and some of them may refuse me directly or tactfully. To avoid the
risk of being turned down, I should start from those teachers who have good
relationships with me and are willing to work with other teachers, which
means to start out gently (Zemelman & Ross, 2009, p. 49). To collaborate
with other teachers does not only mean to plan some interdisciplinary lessons
together or simply observe each others classes, also means to plan some
workshops and build up a learners community to improve professionally.
Reach Out
When talking about reaching out, I need to be aware that there is not only
one resource that I can reach out. Parents, professionals, grants, friends, and
even former students, all can be our resources. Who we need to reach
depends on what purpose we want to get.
Empower Colleagues
Being empowering is a significant feature of being a teacher leader. I should
not consider myself better than any others in my team, on the contrary, I
should observe the colleagues and determine their strengths and then
encourage them to stand out to make the best use of their strengths to lead
us that way. Everyone has their own strengths, and performs in a unique way.
Being a teacher leader, I need to have an open mind, to observe and find out,
and to cultivate more teacher leaders.

Conclusion
When all of the potential teacher leaders are awakened, and the school is led
by formal teacher leaders, who lead informal teacher leaders, who lead their
colleagues and students, teachers will have more space and more
opportunities to reach the top of their profession, and schools will be a real
community for learners and leaders. Can you imagine how the whole
community of education will be like?

Reference
Barth, R. S. (2002). Learning by heart. John Wiley & Sons.
Drucker, P. F. (2005). Managing oneself. Harvard Business Review.
Katzenmeyer, M., & Moller, G. (2009). Awakening the sleeping giant: Helping teachers develop as
leaders. Corwin Press.
Pockell, L., & Avila, A. (2007). The 100 greatest leadership principles of all time. Business Plus.
Zemelman, S., & Ross, H. (2009). Thirteen Steps to Teacher Empowerment: Taking a More Active Role in
Your School Community. Heinemann Educational Books.

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