Graduates of education faculties embark on an exciting learning journey. Teachers have the opportunity throughout their careers to teach in a variety of roles in their school. A leadership role appeals to some. At one time, this meant becoming a principal. Today, however, there are numerous routes that teachers can follow as they consider roles of added responsibility.
Leadership and professional learning go hand in hand. In this article, ETFO members who are teacher leaders describe the essential role that continued professional learning plays in their work. Each began by taking on small leadership roles in their school or board. They found that each leadership activity was also a professional learning opportunity.
Like others looking for an opportunity to share more formally with colleagues, Jennifer Paziuk, a teacher librarian in the Halton District School Board, found teaching Additional Qualiﬁcation courses to be a natural next step.
She had been a workshop leader in her board and throughout the province for a few years. As an AQ instructor Paziuk has found that being aware of current research and new instructional approaches is essential, and now professional reading plays a key role in her learning and preparation. Because she may teach Parts 1, 2, and 3 together she must differentiate the various topics, and dig deeply into the research and pedagogy to have enough interesting and relevant materials for each course.
Sue Pasian, a Literacy Improvement Project Teacher in the Hamilton-Wentworth School District, has also found that keeping current is critical to her work. During the last few years, some boards have introduced new coaching roles so that a school-based teacher leader can work with other teachers in the school. Pasian was excited about this role. “It is such a wonderful opportunity to work with educators in many different settings and see what works or doesn’t work in their particular situation,” she said. She has found that visiting other teachers’ classrooms has helped her gain signiﬁcant insight into her own practice and enhanced her professional growth. She has also participated in numerous professional activities to acquire new knowledge in the area of literacy. Now when she participates in professional learning, she thinks about the content as well as about how she will integrate what she has learned into her own presentations with teachers, a signiﬁcant new approach for her.