In schools across the country, teacher leadership is quickly becoming an important cornerstone of professional development for teachers. Whereas school principals have historically been responsible for the training and professional development of new teachers, there is now an increasing trend to empower experienced teachers to train their less-experienced peers in technology use, classroom management and curriculum development.
The goal of these programs is to sufficiently prepare new teachers for teacher evaluations and to increase teacher competency overall. Those pursuing an online Master of Education in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies can expect to study the benefits of teacher-leader programs in preparing for teacher evaluations.
Teachers Can Build Working Relationships
The most important element of successful teacher mentorship is trust. New teachers must trust the experience and the advice of their more experienced peers. Because the beginning of a teaching career can be an unsteady emotional experience, new teachers benefit emotionally from creating relationships with more experienced peers. When both teachers build the relationship on trust, new teachers will feel more comfortable sharing frustrations or admitting classroom failures, which are important learning experiences.
Improving Teacher Evaluations
Research is beginning to show that teacher leadership programs result in more successful teacher evaluations for new teachers. When junior teachers engage in professional development through one-on-one coaching with experienced teachers, they can address specific challenges they might be having in the classroom. Experienced teachers offer a seasoned perspective and can provide ideas or reassurances as a junior teacher navigates classroom management, behavioral issues or curricular development. This supportive relationship between teachers allows junior teachers to develop their teaching skills in a safe environment.
Less Pressure for New Teachers
When school administrators or principals handle the professional development and observation of new teachers, it can create unintended challenges. Because a principal is the highest-ranked official in a school, there is a power imbalance between principals and teachers that can cause stress for a new teacher. However, when a senior colleague guides a new teacher, there is significantly less uncertainty. New teachers can relax and perform their best during observation.
Benefits for Students
Teacher leadership programs have a positive impact not only new teachers but also on students. Having a support system helps a new teacher feel less stressed, which carries over into the relationship between a teacher and his or her students. With this type of peer guidance, teachers are better able to create safe and stimulating learning environments.
An online master’s in education program is great way to learn more about teacher leadership programs, as well as other dynamic methods schools are using to improve teacher evaluations. Not only are teacher leadership programs contributing to an overall improvement in teacher performance, they are also enabling junior teachers to develop teaching skills through positive connections with experienced teachers; these connections can also develop technical skills and provide important emotional support.
Because teachers feel less pressure when fellow teachers guide and observe them, it creates a less stressful situation for new teachers, which, ultimately, carries over to the classroom and benefits the students as well.
Learn more about the UT Arlington online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies program.
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