The Global Search for Education: 12 Teacher Bloggers Discuss How to Demonstrate Leadership in the Classroom

Posted by: C.M. Rubin, The Global Search for Education

June 26th, 2015

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The Global Search for Education (GSE) is a regular contributor to the Edmodo Blog. Authored by C.M. Rubin, GSE brings together distinguished thought leaders in education and innovation from around the world to explore the key learning issues faced by today’s nations. Look for a new post every Friday and join the Global Search for Education Community on Edmodo to share your perspectives with their editorial staff.

2015-06-24-cmrubinworldjunetop12photo500-thumbEffective leadership in the classroom, according to Theo Wubbels (@thwubbels), one of the world’s most respected experts in the area of teacher training and teacher-student relationships, “depends on healthy and productive interpersonal relationships between teachers and students. In such relationships, students feel close to their teacher and they trust and value him or her. From the perspective of teachers’ behaviors, this implies that teachers show a good mix of agency and communion in the classroom.”

Naturally, this “mix” will vary from situation to situation. However, Theo believes leadership “depends on the teacher’s capacity to adapt.” Teachers must be able to show “all kind of behaviors when the situation asks for it.” He concludes, “a good teacher is not a boss or friend, although he or she can be bossy or friendly, when needed.”

What do the Global Search for Education’s Top 12 Global Teacher bloggers think about leadership? We asked them to share their answers to this question: What are the best ways a teacher can demonstrate leadership in the classroom?

  • Karen Lirenman from Canada (@KLirenman) states, “Educators of 2015 no longer can use the excuse that they didn’t know when there are so many places to help them be in the know.” She encourages a global collective leadership model for teachers. This is achieved by sharing teaching practices and curricula with other teachers through social media, noting, “If I didn’t share, the only place I’d have impact is with my students.” More from Karen
  • Silvia Tolisano (@langwitches) points to the importance of teachers as role models, experiential learning, student sharing, and most importantly, trust. For true leadership to work and inspire, trust must go both ways: student to teacher and teacher to student. More from Silvia
  • Richard Wells (@iPadWells) in New Zealand points to an increasing wave of dependency (children on their parents and teachers) that is getting in the way of independent learning. As a remedy, he recommends giving students more control over assignments and encouraging them to collaborate amongst themselves. More from Richard
  • Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) shares some hot tips for teachers to inspire leadership that multiplies, rather than diminishes, the classroom potential. One tip is to consult students for input on lessons and assignments. More from Vicki
  • Liz Cox (@elizabethkcox) (referred by Adam Steiner – @steineredtech), PhD student at Boston College and English teacher at Needham High School, fosters a community of learners when she teaches. To do this, she follows the guiding principles of “respect and responsibility,” which often means taking a good “inquiry stance” at her own teaching methods. The goal is to demonstrate an “ethic of care.” More from Liz
  • Joe Bower (@joe_bower) recommends that teachers be idealistic, healthy, and interesting. But he notes, they can’t do it alone; teachers have to help other teachers to inspire leadership in themselves and each other. More from Joe
  • Beth Holland (@brholland), GSE Blogger at Large, reminds teachers to have empathy for themselves, students, and colleagues if they want to be good leaders. By having empathy, Beth says, “we remember what it felt like to struggle and then achieve the desired skill or concept.” More from Beth
  • Jennifer Gonzalez (@cultofpedagogy) (referred by Todd Finley – @finleyt) gives us 10 unexpected tips for teachers to become fiercer leaders in the classroom. Some examples: trying something new that you are not good at, and being silly and funny. More from Jennifer
  • Pauline Hawkins (@PaulineDHawkins), author of Uncommon Core: 25 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in a Cookie Cutter Educational System, encourages teachers to be leaders not just in the classroom, but also outside of it, in the realm of education reform and beyond. “Teachers should not be afraid to stand up for what they know is right; after all, we are the experts.” More from Pauline
  • Craig Kemp from Singapore (@mrkempnz) advocates listening and being super encouraging to students in order to instill leadership in them. He also advises asking for feedback and using social media to make learning a 24/7 activity. More from Craig

Continue the conversation in the Global Search for Education Community on Edmodo



Left to right top row: Adam Steiner, Susan Bowles, Richard Wells, Todd Finley Middle row: Vicki Davis, Lisa Currie, C. M. Rubin, Pauline Hawkins, Joe Bower Bottom row: Craig Kemp, Silvia Tolisano, Tom Bennett, Karen Lirenman

C.M. Rubin is the author of two widely read online series for which she received a 2011 Upton Sinclair award, “The Global Search for Education” and “How Will We Read?” She is also the author of three bestselling books, including The Real Alice in Wonderland, is the publisher of CMRubinWorld, and is a Disruptor Foundation Fellow.

(All photos courtesy of Michael Horn)


22 responses to “The Global Search for Education: 12 Teacher Bloggers Discuss How to Demonstrate Leadership in the Classroom”

  1. Akshay Anand says:

    Leadership consists of actions that help the group to complete its tasks successfully and maintain effective working relationships among its members. For any group to be successful, both task-leadership actions and group maintenance-leadership actions have to be provided. It is important to note that a) any member of a group may become a leader by taking these necessary actions (i.e., the teacher is not necessarily the leader), and b) the various leadership actions may be provided by different group members (i.e., the teacher may decide to share various aspects of leadership with class members).

    Teachers should know that, generally, groups function most effectively when leadership tasks are shared among group members. However, most students are accustomed to being in classes where the teacher plays all of the leadership roles; if you want students to play some of these roles, you must give them permission to do so, and perhaps guidance in how to best take on these roles. When teachers neglect leadership and do not provide leadership themselves or invite students to take on leadership roles, students may themselves elect to play informal (and frequently inappropriate) leadership roles in the classroom, simply to pull the individuals together as a group.I used to discuss these topics on

  2. Brenda Osborne says:

    Thank you Jennifer Gonzalez for reminding us to use humor! I am silly with my sixth graders everyday and they love it!

  3. Tida Banfield says:

    Great ideas for inspiring leadership among our students. This year I attempted to inspire leadership through choice but implementing Genius Hour in the classroom. Although students initially were uncomfortable with the autonomy, once they became involved in their individually picked projects they were excited. Students created exceptional finished products and shared their experiences on blogs using KIDBLOG.

  4. Jason Reagin says:

    I really appreciate and agree with the statement concerning being neither a boss or a friend to students. I find that in my experience working around the world as an educator that students want one or the other and when you do not give them either is when they really start to engage and learn on a more personal level.

  5. Aaron Maurer says:

    The goal for being a leader is to not create followers but develop new leaders.

  6. Pam Hubler says:

    So many great resources here, thank you! I love the quote from Karen Lirenman. It’s so true, educators need to try to impact globally. Richard Wells has some great points when it comes to personalizing learning. Teachers can’t be the only source of information anymore, we need to allow students’ voices to be heard and validated to become future leaders.

  7. Jody Urbas says:

    I particularly agree with Richard Wells, when teaching in a creative discipline I have found students freeze when given options. I feel we are doing a disservice to students by not fostering creativity in the classroom. This is one of the most important skills in today’s workplace.

  8. Jodie Johnston says:

    We must learn to collaborate better as teachers. Students need to have choices and feel like they have ownership of their learning. This was an excellent blog post!

  9. Gregg Eilers says:

    Leadership is an issue close to my heart. I truly believe that everyone, even students, are leaders. It just comes down to how great a leader you decide to be, and as a teacher I think that we have the amazing responsibility to foster those leadership qualities within students AND teachers. I really like the reminder that Pauline gives us about how teachers should never be afraid to stand up for what is right since we live in the trenches everyday with what works and what doesn’t.

  10. I will say i agree completely with Vicki Davis. I not only look to my students for input on lessons and feedback on how the lessons were conducted; but find that some of my best ideas are tweaks of their ideas. I think that teachers need to build relationships, and taking the lead with that will showcase that type of behavior in the classroom to all the other students. Teachers need to be the lead in building their community each year, and each year that community needs different resources.

  11. Michelle DaSilva says:

    So many great points made in this article!

    Excellent compilation of tips for promoting leadership in schools. I plan on taking these points and using them moving forward.

    I also appreciated learning of all these bloggers with their twitter accounts – I was happy to see that I already followed some of them, but now made a point of following those that I didn’t already know of and follow.

  12. Mallory says:

    “Educators of 2015 no longer can use the excuse that they didn’t know when there are so many places to help them be in the know.” What a great line! I completely agree. Too often this is the excuse. There are so many ways to be involved, share and stay up-to-date… and it’s free!

    I also agree with Beth Holland. Having empathy is so important, I share with my students every year the different struggles I’ve had in school. It shows them a bigger picture, what you can achieve through hard work and that you remember how it feels to struggle and be successful.

  13. Ed Bonhaus says:

    I appreciated the article. To me, you show leadership in the classroom by being the example. One of the best books I read in my School Administration Masters program was called Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way. The principles not only apply to administrators and teachers, but also to teachers and students. Empower the students, but be ready to take control if needed.

  14. Kari Kuebler says:

    Many great points are made in this post. I think trust and mutual respect between student and teacher is paramount to leadership. Through these things, teachers are able to inspire and encourage students not only to do and be the best that they can, but also to become fair and responsible leaders in their own right.

  15. Amy Kingsley says:

    I love what Jennifer Gonzalez says “1. Lead with imperfection.
    Try things you’re not good at, right in front of them. Demonstrate a spirit of experimentation. Speak of your mistakes without judgment.” Wonderful!

  16. Lisa Parisi says:

    Great list of educators to follow here. And some great advice. I particularly like Jennifer Gonzalez’ advice to “try something new you are not good at.”

  17. Rashenah Walker says:

    Showing leadership in the classroom varies on students individual needs. As stated above, some students need you to be friendly, some need need more direction. But the most important thing is for teachers to display leadership qualities for students to follow. Some have never seen the attributes of a good leader, and the teacher is the primary source of this. Through good teacher/student relations this builds trust and can easily be achieved.

  18. Jessica says:

    Very helpful. Thank you!

  19. Wendy says:

    Students no longer repond to the same teaching strategies that students did even 10 years ago. Students, based on their world/surroundings, need to be engaged and intrinsically motivated in order to successful in school. Obviously, we as teachers will have to change our strategies in order to remain effective.

  20. Virginija says:

    21st Century Classroom Leadership empowers teachers to lead.
    Thank you for useful resources.

  21. SJohnston says:

    It is wonderful that there are so many avenues for for teachers to get support, chat with other teachers, read articles, and get ideas. Social media has not only changed the lives of or students but our lives as teachers.

  22. Josue says:

    I truly like the idea of 24/7 learning. With so many experienced educators around the globe, there’s got to be someone at 2 am who can give advice on the best way to get glue out of potatoes!

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