When the ISTE Standards for Educators were updated recently, one of the additions I was most excited about was that of “Leader.” Our educational systems need leaders who will help bring change to our classrooms and create authentic, meaningful learning experiences for our students.
Here are three things – based on the Educator Standards indicators – that every educator can do to be a leader in ensuring student success.
1. Shape, advance and accelerate a shared vision.
Every teacher has the opportunity to accelerate change and influence decision-making. Mentor colleagues, join committees, advocate for effective use of technology to support learning with parents, colleagues and school leaders. You can even voice your opinions about education policy to national, state, school or city leaders. Make sure you connect with education stakeholders locally and around the globe by attending conferences and engaging online with your professional learning network (PLN).
2. Advance equitable access and learning opportunities to meet the needs of diverse learners.
You can be vigilant about ensuring that all students have access to high-quality learning aided by technology and culturally relevant curriculum regardless of socioeconomic status, geographic location, ability, language or any other factor. You can do this in many ways, such as using videoconference technology to bring an expert into the classroom if your school is in a remote area, leveraging acessibility tools to support students with physical disabilities, and giving competency based assessments and supporting individual students where they are.
3. Model digital resources and tools for learning.
Find new strategies and tools for learning by reaching out to other educators face-to-face or on Twitter, reading research on the learning sciences or subscribing to blogs by thought leaders. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new tools for learning and be open to risk-taking and productive failure for continuous improvement. Reflecting on what went well and what didn’t offers valuable insight for making improvements for next time.
As educators, we’re all leaders. But leadership comes in many forms and takes many paths. While there’s no one right way to approach this work, it’s critical to recognize that leading, like teaching, is about relationships. It’s about understanding and influence, and it’s about finding common ground, staying humble and compromising.
Ultimately, it’s about lifting up the work of others, advocating for students, and modeling and shaping the instructional practices that we see in our schools. We know that it’s only through the leadership we find in our schools that we can make inroads in bringing innovation and meaningful learning to our students.
Bill Bass is president of the ISTE Board of Directors.