Teachers Need Leaders Too

by Elena Spathis
@elenaspathis

Teachers are leaders within their own classrooms, but we look to our respective leadership figures for inspiration, motivation, and support. Our leaders have the potential to ensure the school culture is a positive, upbeat one in which everyone is given the opportunity to thrive. I have spoken with many educators over the years, and one of the main qualities they look for in their leaders is approachability. 

Teaching, in general, is a challenging enough profession, and it goes without saying that pandemic and post-pandemic teaching has uncovered a new level of obstacles. Fortunately, our leaders have the power to give us hope, even in the darkest of times. A simple brainstorming session or casual conversation can go a long way. As teachers, we are always focused on making sure that our students are okay – sometimes, we can benefit from a check-in, too! 

In the context of world languages, effective leadership and advocacy for teachers and learners are more important than ever before. Our world is increasingly globalized and interconnected, so it is imperative that both teachers and leaders promote bilingualism and multiculturalism. Additionally, we must uphold integrity and high academic standards. And of course, we must incorporate effective, engaging, research-based practices in our classes. 

To manage all of these priorities, teachers and leaders need to work together with a common vision and a common understanding of what helps teachers be successful. Leaders need to provide teachers with high-quality professional development opportunities related to their specific disciplines. And creating opportunities for teachers to collaborate, co-plan, and work alongside one another should be normalized. 

As teachers, we need motivation and inspiration to keep moving forward. Unsurprisingly, fellow teachers have shared with me how meaningful it is for their leaders to celebrate their successes. Besides offering words of praise, by involving teachers in decision-making and valuing their opinions, leaders show trust, gratitude, and respect. Teachers long to feel that their efforts are recognized, especially in a time as tumultuous as this one. By soliciting teacher input and using it to make positive changes, leaders demonstrate their appreciation. When everyone feels that they are respected, motivation increases, thereby creating a more productive and positive work environment for all.

If you liked this blog post, then you’ll love this corresponding Language Lounge podcast episode with Elena Spathis and host Michelle Olah on leadership qualities!

Elena Spathis is a Spanish teacher in New Jersey, and currently works at the high school level. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish and Modern Greek Studies, as well as a Master of Education Degree in Language Education from Rutgers University. She recently obtained her second Master’s Degree in Teacher Leadership, with a concentration in English as a Second Language. In addition to teaching, Elena also enjoys writing and blogging about her teaching experiences via Edutopia, Wayside Publishing’s Proficiency Talks, and her own website, the Spanish Teacher Diaries. She loves to travel and experience new cultures.

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