Leadership is Everywhere - Preservice Teacher Leadership

While the research and policy literature frequently highlights the importance of leadership to school success and student achievement, the 'leadership' they have in mind is primarily that of the principal. As teachers have become more involved in school administration, the importance of teacher leadership and its impact on student success and teacher professionalism have occasionally been noted in the school leadership literature.

 EdTech Heros/Leaders
What I have yet to read about is the contributions of novice or preservice teachers to the knowledge, practice or motivation of other educators. As an advocate of distributed leadership and the notion that leadership is everywhere, I am a firm believer that influencing the knowledge, practice or motivation of others in the service of organizational goals can indicate leadership influence. While some may feel that their newness to the profession precludes novice and preservice teachers from being considered leaders I would like to highlight the contributions of Brock's EdTech Cohort as a case for acknowledging preservice teacher leadership.

Contemporary leadership portrayals highlight the importance of how leaders influence those around them (Leithwood et al, 1999; Northouse, 2010; Spillane, 2006; Yukl, 2010). From a social influence perspective, leadership can be considered to be any activities that attempt to influence the knowledge, practice and motivation of other organizational members in the service of the organization’s core work (Spillane, 2006). Within the context of the schoolhouse, school leaders are seen as ‘‘those persons, occupying various roles in the school, who work with others to provide direction and who exert influence on persons and things in order to achieve the school’s goal” (Leithwood and Riehl, 2003, p. 9). Thus, by exerting influence in the service of school/educational goals preservice teachers deserved to be considered leaders.

The use of social media has made finding examples of leadership influence much easier for researchers and potential followers alike. In fact, this is the basis of tech-enabled leadership:

Tech-enabled leadership can be defined as leadership that take advantage of the affordance of technology to enable leadership actions that are open, collaborative or dynamic. With a focus on leadership influence, tech-enabled leadership transforms the scale and scope of traditional leadership structures to facilitate the distribution of leadership actions that influence the fulfillment of organizational goals.

In a very short period of time the preservice teachers in Brock's EdTech Cohort have capitalized on the benefits of using technology to exert leadership influence. While it is to be expected that these teacher candidates would influence their peers, what has been notable is how the scale of their leadership influence has left the confines of Brock's teacher education program to influence the knowledge, practice or motivation of educators outside of the program.

Following the blog and Twitter feeds of the EdTech Cohort in addition to their educational technology videos available on YouTube highlights their collective contribution to enhancing educator professional knowledge. More importantly, a careful examination of the blog comments and retweets from educators not associated with the teacher education program provides encouraging evidence that these preservice teachers have influenced the knowledge, practice or motivation of other educators.

While I began this blog post with the goal of drawing attention to the leadership influence of preservice teachers, what I find more exciting is the future leadership potential of these educators that have already demonstrated their ability to support the professional knowledge and growth of the profession even before their first day employed as a teacher. This bodes very well for the future of education.

I look forward to watching them learn and grow and you can too. To see these leaders in action visit:

1 comment:

  1. Camille,
    It will be interesting to see how this potential for pre-service leadership in the area of ed tech manifests itself in authentic ways during Block I. I will certainly be exploring this point with my two schools' associate teachers when I meet with them to review Block I expectations on Nov. 10. During this first block, I have responsibility for evaluating 11 teacher candidates at Green Acres and Queen Victoria, the latter being a new school where an ed tech infrastructure is already in place.
    Your comments are certainly food for thought.