Educators Make Exceptional Leaders: Professional Development for Teachers

Educators make exceptional leaders. Whether the educator is the person at the front desk guiding students to their next class, the superintendent coaching his administrative staff, or the teacher who leads within and outside the classroom– educators make exceptional leaders. Educators lead by example, act as mentors and coaches, communicate expectations, make others feel safe to speak up, inspire those around them, and challenge people to think.  However, these skills do not always come naturally. If anything, skills that many educators and leaders need are developed over years of experience and through lessons learned. Online professional development for teachers and administrators is a great way to help educators master these skills a bit earlier.

When you think about what makes a good educator, you are likely to think of qualities and skills like communication, collaboration, adaptability, and more. These personal attributes are also used to describe great leaders. Interestingly, the best leaders are also great teachers. Sydney Finkelstein studied world-class leaders for more than 10 years, and in an article in the Harvard Business Review, they wrote that over that time, they have come to learn that the most exceptional leaders “were teachers through and through.” Given that leadership and education go hand-in-hand, you would assume that educators often participate in leadership development as their means to completing their teacher professional development credits. However, that is not the norm. Most professional development for teachers focuses directly on teaching and does little to develop the necessary personal attributes at the foundation of those teaching skills.

Teacher Leadership is Not Optional

Leadership outside the classroom is just as essential as within the classroom for educators. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards asserts that teacher leadership is an integral part of the job. The opportunities and need for leaders within our institutions are great. Whether teachers step outside the classroom to act as an academic coach, new teacher mentor, a leader within their grade team, or to enter administration – leadership skills are necessary for effectiveness.

Most importantly, teacher leadership is vital to extending impact on education. Through leadership, educators have a unique position to influence colleagues, administrators, and communities to improve teaching and better support student learning. The active practice of leadership within education makes a real difference in the world.

Barriers to Professional Development for Teachers

Professional development requirements for teachers and other educators vary significantly from state to state, but it is always necessary for license renewal. Despite the requirement, barriers to professional development for teachers are real. According to the 2013 Teaching and Learning International Survey, teachers reported that professional development opportunities often conflict with their work schedule (46%), conflict with family responsibility (39%), and is too expensive (31%).

online professional development for teachers

It is not a secret that educators are pressed for time and that they must constantly balance many priorities to be effective in their role. Educators have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic to serve their students within hybrid and virtual environments. Some have had to balance having students in their classroom, enforcing and maintaining safety measures to mitigate the spread of the virus, and creating and delivering lessons to virtual students all at the same time. If the pandemic has taught us anything about our educators, they are adaptable and lead with a servant mindset. Such characteristics will continue to be imperative and can be further developed with leadership development training.

Given the barriers educators face today, professional development for teachers and administrators needs to be flexible, convenient, and affordable.

How Educators Can Develop as Leaders

Educators will benefit from investing in growing their leadership skills as these skills can transform your life and help you further transform the lives of others. Through leadership development, educators learn to improve communication, work more effectively in teams, and grow their emotional intelligence. When you grow as a leader, you grow as a person and become empowered to help others succeed in the same regard. The following steps can help you discover your leadership strengths and develop them further.

  1. Identify your leadership strengths and weaknesses – When you identify your strengths, you can then focus on maximizing your talents while improving your areas for growth. Utilize assessments such as EvaluSkills: 360 Degree Assessment to measure your leadership abilities or ask a mentor or colleague for their honest feedback.
  2. Determine your leadership style – There are many ways to lead, and most people have a default leadership style. Learn more about leadership styles here.
  3. Set goals for the development of skills – Since you have already identified your strengths and weaknesses, you now have the information you need to determine the areas you would like to improve. Make certain your goals are measurable. For example, you may be tempted to set the goal of “being better at working in teams,” but you won’t be able to measure it easily. Therefore, a goal like “complete a course on teamwork by working on the course for three hours a week” is easier to measure.
  4. Be okay with failing – Some of the greatest leadership lessons we learn are a result of when we fail. You may have heard that you learn a lot more from failure than you do from success. For many of us it is our fear of failure that keeps us from taking on leadership roles. However, you can only achieve if you are willing to try and okay with the possibility that you may fail.
  5. Start with your why – The most important part of being a leader is understanding why you want to be one. What drives you and motivates you to lead? When you start with your why, it makes the what and how a lot more effortless.

At Peregrine, we believe that educators make exceptional leaders. That is why we have adapted our online leadership training to fulfill the professional development needs of teachers. Explore our complete list of courses and programs already approved by the Wyoming Teaching Standards Board for professional development credit.

Curious to know if our courses and programs are or could be approved for professional development for teachers in your state? Contact us here.