Teacher Leadership Toolset
for equity and learning

The toolset has been designed to support the development of teacher leadership in school cultures with a flat hierarchy which are undergoing transformation, oriented to equity and learning as the theory of action driving their work with all students. Such deep cultural change requires schools to become learning organizations, in which all professionals see themselves as learners and in which highly effective professionals are recognized and leveraged for improving school quality.



Tool #4: Spectrum of Irritation
Schools typically have flat hierarchies. When a colleague breaks ranks and takes on the role of teacher leader, he or she has already caused some irritation. As a result, it is essential that teacher leaders are aware of their impact on others and are supported by the school leadership, particularly when teacher leadership and shared leadership are just beginning to change a school’s culture. It can be helpful for teacher leaders to analyse their activities and behaviours along a “spectrum of irritation”.



What do we mean by teacher leadership?

Teacher leaders are highly effective teachers who accept responsibility beyond classroom instruction for a task or function which contributes to quality development at their school. These teachers act as leading professionals, drawing upon external and experiential knowledge to continually improve their practice with a focus on equity and learning. They are sources of inspiration for their colleagues and ambassadors for their schools.

By taking on a teacher leadership role, teachers “break ranks” and become visible to colleagues as leaders. Where teacher leadership is new, “breaking ranks” in the flat hierarchy typically found in school cultures commonly results in irritation, on a spectrum from speaking up and attracting attention to designed intervention and resistance.

There are many ways in which Tool #4 may be used. Here are two suggestions:

School leaders (principals and teacher leaders) consciously suspend past experiences, constructs, personal perceptions and pre-judgements to work systematically in an inquiry mode. The principle underlying the inquiry is: Each of us is important and has an important contribution to make in our school.

Step 1. Photo by inspirexpressmiami, see http://pixabay.com/en/list-to-do-list-reminder-to-do-372766/

Step 1

  • List activities you plan in the near future in your role as a teacher leader.
  • Step 2. Photo by geralt, see http://pixabay.com/en/chaos-regulation-chaos-theory-485491/

    Step 2

  • Estimate the level of irritation each activity might cause and place it on the spectrum of irritation, from drawing attention to causing resistance.
  • Step 3. Photo by Teachers as Makers Academy New York, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/35532864@N05/7788808886

    Step 3

    Discuss your analysis with other teacher and/or school leaders.
  • How can the activity be most effectively initiated?
  • If an activity will inevitably lead to resistance, what can be done to manage the situation?
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    © 2014 EPNoSL Project