Six teacher leaders in the Los Angeles area participated as panelists in Mount St. Mary’s “Passion and Purpose: Teachers Leading the Way”, a symposium hosted on Wednesday evening, September 23rd from 6-8 p.m. Panelists spoke about their experiences in diverse roles as teacher leaders, balancing leadership duties with regular classroom teaching, and following one’s passions as a leader.
In addition to talking about the specific roles they’ve taken on as teacher leaders, each of the impassioned panelists offered words of general wisdom and advice to the audience of teachers and teacher candidates.
Smith-Reynolds opened the panel discussion, reminding audience members that all leadership roles – whether large or small – are crucial to your school site, and that once you start taking on leadership duties, colleagues, parents, and students will begin to see you in a different light. Bingener then spoke, noting that teachers can and should be agents of social change identifying areas of need and working to improve them from the ground up. Blanchard-Young called upon all teachers to pay attention to their gifts and talents, to find like-minded colleagues, and to be open to taking on different challenges as leaders in their school community. Feltham humorously warned teachers against the dangers of “time goblins”, encouraged them to prioritize their energies, and noted that effective teacher leaders are those who are willing to take risks and allow other teachers to come and “see them fail”. Betzelberger advised teachers to draw upon the diverse leadership skills they’ve developed in other areas of their lives, and to pursue roles that are particularly of interest to them. Finally, Underwood provided audience members with a “top ten” list for staying vibrant as a teacher leader – including taking care of your personal health and well-being, paying attention to what energizes you (and doing more of it!), and making sure to rotate leadership roles with other teachers.
After speaking, panelists facilitated small discussion groups with audience members, who had the opportunity to brainstorm ideas for teacher leadership roles in their own lives. As one participant noted, “I was pleasantly surprised by the volume of knowledge that was shared by the guest speakers. I found it quite refreshing to hear the struggles and the successes from those who share some of the same responsibilities that I do in my career. So often, teaching can be quite overwhelming and we feel like we are alone. It was great to hear that these teachers were able to balance their lives and be quite successful in the process.”
Video clips from the symposium will be posted in the near future, so stay tuned!