It is given that President Obama's 2008 presidential election campaign changed the fabric of American politics. Now, woven into the political loom is the voice of the American public. Obama's grassroots organizing allowed ordinary citizens to lead, to organize, to shape and to be the face of the Obama campaign. Much like these empowered citizens that became campaign leaders; teacher leadership is empowering ordinary teachers to lead in extraordinary ways. They, much like people on the ground floor of the Obama campaign, weave as they go, not yet knowing what the end product might look like. The world had not measured the effectiveness of Obama's campaign strategies before 2008. He built upon known sources of American strength and pride and used them strategically to win an election.
Similarly, the formal body of evidence that can conclusively attribute gains in student achievement to the emergence of the Teacher Leader role is yet to be defined. However, as Goodwin points out, the malleable nature of teacher leadership has led to varying definitions of teacher leadership across the nation. Goodwin states, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" (Goodwin, 2013). Although research around teacher leadership is emerging and is not yet conclusive, there are ample data to support many well researched components contained within the body of teacher leadership. These components are directly linked to increases in student achievement.
Why the big focus on Teacher Leadership? Contrary to popular belief, teacher leadership is an old idea re-surfacing. Leadership teaching positions dating back to the 80s and early 90s were created to disperse the hierarchy of power within the system. These positions were denounced due to the focus on personal success (Mangin & Stoelinga, 2010).
Today, more than ever, teachers must work effectively and efficiently to meet seemingly contradictory demands placed on them by society. On the one hand, school personnel are tasked with attaining and publicly reporting high levels of student achievement in response to No Child Left Behind. On the other, school personnel must ensure that students learn 21st century skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, adaptability, entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, and accessing and analyzing information. This dichotomy challenges educators to prepare students to select the right answers on standardized tests and, at the same time, to critically analyze the myriad possible solutions that may be appropriate for addressing problems in daily life. Teachers must prepare students to think both inside and outside the box (Singh , 2012).
Because of contradicting expectations of teachers and students Teacher Leaders, focusing on student learning are emerging.
A body of physiological research links increases in effective teaching practices and in increased student achievement to the development of social and emotional competencies in...