How teachers learn — and lead

The February issue of Educational LeadershipHow Teachers Learn, features a series of timely articles on professional growth throughout a teaching career, beginning with “From Surviving to Thriving.” An article on professional learning communities considers how teachers can move collectively beyond talk into action — there’s even a video! You might want to print out a copy of the article “The Principal’s Role in Supporting Learning Communities” (wear gloves if you must to avoid fingerprints).

And the editors don’t overlook the leadership dimension of teaching learning, either. Our favorite article in this regard (not surprisingly) is by TLN Forum member and TLN blogger Bill Ferriter, with the unlikely (re: leadership) title, Learning with Blogs and Wikis.” While Bill gives due attention to the power of blogs as a place to publicly reflect on your classroom practice (thereby inviting critical feedback), he also finds a good bit to say about teacher leadership.

In his essay, Bill recognizes that by sharing practice, teachers participate in a form of leadership, promoting collaboration and making teaching quality a high priority

…thousands of accomplished educators are now writing blogs about teaching and learning, bringing transparency to both the art and the science of their practice. In every content area and grade level and in schools of varying sizes and from different geographic locations, educators are actively reflecting on instruction, challenging assumptions, questioning policies, offering advice, designing solutions, and learning together. And all this collective knowledge is readily available for free. 

But he also sees the connective power of the Internet as a never-before-possible tool for teacher leadership around policy issues and school improvement at district, state and national levels:

Although I enjoy the opportunities for reflection and articulation that digital tools have made possible, I see even greater potential in using blogs and wikis to gain influence as a teacher leader. Early on, I realized that I had valuable experiences to share with everyone from parents to policymakers. Now, in just over two years, my blog has attracted nearly 350 regular readers. No longer do teachers have to sit unsatisfied, wishing that we had more influence over our profession. Blogging has made it possible for all of us to be publishers and to elevate our voices to improve classroom practice.

Are you using the power of the Internet to share your insights and expertise with larger audiences? You need not wait to be invited to the table these days. The World Wide Web is the table.