Copyright © 2019 Network for Excellence in Teaching (NExT)                                                                                              

This chapter makes an argument for qualities that speak to teacher leadership and professional engagement as indicators of teacher effectiveness.  The teacher qualities described here are derived from the Common Metrics survey items that can be administered to school principals or supervisors as a report of beginning teachers’ practices in the areas of professional growth, collaboration with families, collaboration with colleagues, responsiveness to feedback, lawful practice, and student advocacy.  Guidance to teacher preparation programs for external reporting on such qualities is also provided.

Professional engagement as an indicator of emerging leadership

Not all teacher leadership is bound in specific roles and specific functions.  Indeed, much leadership occurs informally and through the choices that teachers make as stewards of the teaching profession (Sato & Rogers, 2017).  In their guidance for creating a Systemic Approach to Elevating Teacher Leadership, Killion et al. (2016) suggest:

How teacher leaders treat others is key to leadership success.  Being available and present for others, listening with a desire to understand, acknowledging contributions of others and sharing collective credit for accomplishments are specific behaviors that help to build a sense of community among members of an organization. (p. 20)

We view beginning teachers as emerging leaders who seek out professional growth opportunities, collaborate with peers and families, use colleague feedback to improve, uphold laws, and act as advocates for all learners.  They demonstrate qualities that are precursors to increasing opportunity for leader roles and the development of a leadership identity.

For beginning teachers, we see the desire to continue in their teaching career as an indicator of their professionalism with significant implications for leadership and engagement.  Researchers have shown that beginning teachers’ career trajectories often include a difficult roller-coaster ride (Ingersoll & Strong, 2011; Moir, 1990; 2011).  After a challenging first year, the desire to continue in the field may predict teacher leadership potential.  We also note that “stayers,” as opposed to “leavers,” tend to have experienced high-quality induction programs and have made use of available professional development opportunities in and outside of the school system (Ingersoll & Strong, 2011).  This fact suggests that schools can play a significant role in supporting teacher leadership development by supporting all beginning teachers with induction programs.  School level supports for teacher leadership can have lasting impacts, as Berry et al. (2010) further suggest:

Increased opportunities to lead build on one another and translate into increased success for instructional leaders.  Teachers who report more control over the policies in their schools and greater degrees of autonomy in their jobs are more likely to remain in teaching and to feel invested in their careers and schools. (p. 1)