Education Opinion

Realizing Our Leadership Potential

By Learning Forward — December 07, 2012 2 min read

This blog is taken from Stephanie Hirsh’s column in the December 2012 JSD. View more articles from this issue here, or become a Learning Forward member and get online access to current and archived issues.

Skillful leadership is essential to effective professional learning. Without it, professional learning will fail to achieve its intended outcomes.

Every staff member has a responsibility to exercise skillful leadership. And while it may not be part of a formal job description, all educators have opportunities to exercise leadership and impact professional learning. In fact, some of the most powerful opportunities to advance professional learning’s impact are seized by those without formal authority or responsibility.

Leadership by educators surfaces in many ways:

  • A teacher voices a concern in a faculty meeting about plans for a full day of team-building exercises for an upcoming professional development day. She and her fellow teachers believe there are more pressing instructional challenges that demand the attention of the entire staff.
  • An instructional coach challenges a grade-level team of teachers to assume collective responsibility for all students in the grade level rather than expressing concern and empathy for the new teachers who seem to have been assigned a larger percentage of challenging students.
  • A mentor argues with senior teachers for greater support for new teachers, including smaller class size, more time for professional learning and support, and opportunities to observe and be observed by other members of her team.
  • A principal recognizes the value of teacher leadership and organizes a school leadership team. She ensures that professional learning is a regular part of each meeting.

Each of these educators exhibits one of the three key ideas outlined in the professional learning standard on leadership.

They develop capacity for their own learning and leading. As leaders, they are voracious learners. They assume responsibility for learning for themselves and their colleagues. They demand professional learning be effective and focused on substantive results for themselves, their colleagues, and their students.

They advocate for professional learning. As leaders, they make their own career-long learning visible to others. They participate in learning networks and other structures within and beyond their own work environment. They articulate their assumptions and beliefs, and their actions model the attitudes and behaviors they expect of all educators.

They create support systems and structures. As leaders, they establish or advocate for organizational systems and structures that make effective professional learning possible. As leaders, they influence other policymakers and decision makers to attain the support for professional learning necessary to achieve its potential.

Each of the big ideas represented in the Leadership standard is relevant for all educators. We have every right to expect them of others as well as ourselves. When all stakeholders in a system see themselves as leaders of professional learning, there is no limit to the results we can achieve.

Stephanie Hirsh
Executive Director, Learning Forward

The opinions expressed in Learning Forward’s PD Watch are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools
Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read