Art Teacher Leaders

The world of education needs more art teachers who are instructional leaders. I had two brief opportunities recently to stand on this soap box, most exciting of which when a good sized group of art teacher colleagues chose to come to an evening leadership training session.

Nevermind... I've Got It by Emily Muha, art teacher
Nevermind… I’ve Got It by Emily Muha, art teacher

This session was designed with two specific groups of art teachers in mind, art department chairs and art collaborative team leaders, but I was thrilled that several other art teachers chose to attend who are not currently serving in one of these rolls. Sure, the art department chairs and CT leads might have an immediate need for guidance on working with groups and developing an effective team, but every teacher finds themselves in teacher groups at one time or another.

Every time you are with other teachers is an opportunity to be a leader. You don’t have to have a title, or be in charge of facilitating a meeting to model the way.

An instructional leader is someone who influences the decisions and actions of other teachers to improve student learning. This can be done through the way you interact in the halls and the break room just as much as it can be through the role of team leader, instructional coach, or principal. (Though I think we need more art teachers in these roles as well.)

Here are some of the things we talked about at the training session. For my local colleagues, make sure to let me know if you would like us to repeat the session, or what other topics you are interested in for another session.

To be able to meet their goals, the members of a teacher group must be able to work together effectively. We discussed and modeled approaches for:

  • Relationship building
  • Inclusion activities
  • Norm setting
  • Developing buy-in
  • Group decision making

Effective teacher groups have a purpose behind their work, and specific tasks that must be accomplished. We discussed strategies for:

  • Defining a common purpose as a group
  • Using and sticking to an agenda (even for a small informal group)
  • Soliciting group input for agenda items
  • Clearly defining the task/outcomes of a given activity
  • Keeping the group focused on the task

A clear and defined process helps teacher groups accomplish tasks and the work of the group effectively and efficiently. We modeled and discussed processes for:

  • Engaging in steps in the collaborative cycle
  • Involving the whole group in tasks and decision making
  • Planning for future meetings to meet team goals
  • Approaches for art collaborative team work

The three part structure, above, and a number of strategies we shared were inspired by Adaptive Schools training. If you want to learn more, consider looking for opportunities to take this training or other leadership training opportunities offered in you area.

Thanks to everyone who attended. You brought energy and a positive attitude to our work despite it being three hours added to the end of a full day. You’re the best!


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