Hybrid Positions: Making Space for Teacher Leadership
Deep change is systemic, sustainable, and cross-cuts multiple layers of educational structures. It comes from the top down, bottom up, inside out, and outside in. As it is becoming increasingly clear that cultivating teacher leadership is essential to improving our educational system, we need to institute teacher-leader structures on a wide scale so that teachers do not have to leave the classroom or burn themselves out to enact deep change. This means: 1) Teachers need to be a structured part of the solution; 2) Spaces need to be created for teachers to be part of the solution; and 3) Change needs to leverage and direct policy initiatives.
The hybridization of teaching positions makes teachers a structured part of the solution. It represents a significant shift in which teachers go from having a primary job title of teaching children to having a shared job of teaching children and leading school change. It respectfully legitimizes the work in this realm that teachers have been doing in their "free time," and enables change to come from those who are in the classroom daily. And this brings policies into greater alignment with needs.
Creating hybrid roles places teachers in leadership positions to shift education on their own terms. Rather than having change happen to us and our schools, we as teachers can shape the discussions and policies that have an impact on us and our students. We can begin to do this systemically by advocating for the need for hybrid leadership structures that involve the thoughtful elements discussed in Brooke Peters' blog.
One of the biggest realizations I had after my year fellowship at the U.S. Department of Education was that no one is coming to save our schools. If change is going to happen, it really has to come from within. The top may need to direct, support, and facilitate the change, but at the end of the day, change will be implemented from the ground floor by those in classrooms, schools, and communities.
Teacher leaders in hybrid roles can leverage change through their involvement and implementation of current policy initiatives, like the Common Core State Standards, teacher evaluation, building community schools, or other local initiatives. All of these intersecting policies, which are now ripe for implementation, need teacher voice, direction, and leadership. Hybrid positions can facilitate deep change and structure schools to better serve student needs by putting those closest to the classroom pulse in positions that can truly change the fabric of education.
Linda Yaron is a National Board-certified English teacher who has taught for the past 10 years in an inner-city community of the Los Angeles Unified School District. She is a former U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellow.