After years of teaching, I came to a crossroads in my career. My passion for helping our youth succeed possesses such fervor that a career outside of education felt inconceivable; yet I didn’t want to be a classroom teacher forever and had no desire to become a school administrator. I wanted to pursue an advanced degree, but like most teachers I wanted my degree to be impactful. I was surrounded by programs designed for teachers eager to matriculate up the administrative ranks.
It was a hot pink flyer in our faculty lounge that introduced me to the term “teacher leadership.” The chance that this unfamiliar yet intriguing degree could be my answer encouraged me to attend the advertised information session. I decided to pursue a degree in teacher leadership at that very session. To date, I have not regretted that decision.
What is Teacher Leadership?
Teacher leaders leverage their experience and expertise to support teachers and students beyond their classrooms. Their existence is contrary to the longstanding idea that teachers and leaders are separate entities. Although school administrators lead schools, experienced teachers also play an integral role in school leadership. Teacher leadership gives teachers who lend their knowledge and experience to impact all students and teachers a distinct role. Teachers have always been leaders, but now that leadership is recognized and often compensated.
How a Teacher Leadership Degree Will Make You a Better Educator
More so than any professional development I have attended, my degree in teacher leadership improved my practice. After being an educator for years, I started to notice repetition in my professional learning. I wanted to attain skills that would add to my value as opposed to tasks that added to my plate. My graduate program in teacher leadership was designed specifically for proficient teachers who desired to become leaders. We learned how to coach teachers, how to deliver professional development, and how to interpret school-wide data to devise well-informed remedies.
My degree in teacher leadership challenged me to evaluate my skillset and determine what I could contribute to my school and district. This encouraged me to seek out opportunities beyond my classroom and school where my skillset was useful. I am a much more impactful educator as a teacher-leader. Because of my graduate degree, my value is felt by more than my students or even my school.
What Can You Do with Your Degree?
As a teacher, you indubitably want concrete answers about what a degree will enable you to do. At the risk of sounding cliché, the opportunities available with a graduate degree in teacher leadership are endless. You can serve as a department chair, instructional coach, or trainer. You can develop curriculum for your school or district. I use my teacher leadership skills to deliver professional development to teachers in my district and lead a school-wide initiative. As a teacher leader, you are not constrained to a single lane. You can forge a path that is paved by your unique talents and skills.