First Fellowship Then Followership: Training for a New Generation of Teacher Leaders
The teachers' lounge was once the only oasis of camaraderie among teachers engaged in the rigors of public education. Today, fellowship among teachers looks quite different and is no longer relegated to the teachers' lounge. Indeed, in a successful school it is pervasive, and so are the teachers who become leaders of their fellow colleagues and play a significant role in school improvement and renewal. Operating in a variety of roles and possessed of personal and professional traits that have earned them the respect of their colleagues, principals, and district leaders, these teacher leaders have enriched the instructional landscape and the cultures of their schools.
However, the research suggests that, in general, teacher leaders themselves have received little, if any, formal training for their jobs as leaders among their peers. As principals rely more on the expertise of these teachers, as the complexities of public education continue to multiply, and as the demographics of the teaching profession change, an obligation exists to investigate the professional development needs of teacher leaders. Teacher leaders must be skilled in building trusting, respectful relationships, a professional fellowship, among their peers if they wish for them to follow their lead down the path to self-improvement, student achievement, and school excellence. A mission of this importance deserves the best teacher leaders that training can produce. An examination of the necessary knowledge, skills, and dispositions and how teacher leaders develop them will help school districts provide specialized training for them.