jungle art_1 ESE425 Classroom Management of Exceptional Children Email Professor
jungle art_2 Ecological Module
Home : Ecological Module : Teaching Roles : Educational Leader

Teacher as Educational Leader

Any teacher can take a child to the classroom, but not every teacher can make him learn. He will not work joyously unless he feels that liberty is his, whether he is busy or at rest; he must feel the flush of victory and the heart-sinking of disappointment before he takes with a will the tasks distasteful to him and resolves to dance his way bravely through a dull routine of textbooks. - Helen Keller

"I love you ... and where you go I'll follow . . ."

The teacher as Educational Leader is a role of paradox and presumes a sense of humility, of clarity, of flexibility. The research on leadership has brought recognition that being able to assume different roles, to fit the leadership style to the time, place, task, ability of followers, is the most crucial skill. We cannot validate the model of one personality type being best at bossing, but rather the greatest potential for leadership is show in the ability to delegate, to step away and to have implicit faith in human nature combined with recognition of the best hat for the situation show the greatest potential. This is referred to as situational leadership (Hershey & Blanchard, 1988).

Some of the reasons we give when resisting this role:

    Educational leadership belongs to the role and responsibility of the principal

    Many of us have not seen ourselves as leaders and are uncertain of ability

    We donāt want to boss our students and do not realize there is a series of roles in leadership which need not be similar in any way to bossing

    Most teachers do not receive information about this role

    The role takes a great deal of flexibility and practice before approaching proficiency, and many donāt wish to experience the sense of failure that acquisition of such complex skills might require

    Letting go, or delegating is very difficult, especially when paired with a sense of perfection

    Giving students permission to try and to fail is very risky, especially when teachers feel that they are measured by student achievement on one test

    Many of us fear the unknown which is represented by letting go

    We have a great deal of confusion about the distinction between bossing and leading

    Many teachers distrust leadership and are ambivalent about accepting the idea that their role as teacher even approaches such dimensions

    Some of us believe that delegating authority may weaken the teaching role or make it impossible to regain control of the classroom

    Few of us, even in graduate school, had an opportunity to work in this role and learn the fine points through modeling and practice

    Competition continues to be valued and used for grading, making a cooperative model seem less attractive and uncertain
Teacher as Educational Leader

Ginger was facing her first day in the high school Chapter One program. She had heard plenty of horror stories about the students and their feelings about remedial math. In particular, she had been warned about a student whoās father was on the school board. The student had been expelled the year before for substance abuse and the parents had sued the school.

The other students were already at work when Jim sauntered into class. His body language was very specific. He wanted no part of math class. "I'm never going to need this stuff, Jim stated loudly. When I get out of this dump, Iām hiring an accountant to do my math."

Ginger cringed. She could feel the turmoil in her stomach beginning. "Mr. Smith," she began, "Let's discuss this out here so that we donāt cheat the other students of their concentration." She walked to the sink area and stood waiting. Jim took out his comb, combed his hair and chewed a minute (he was famous for his chaw). Then he swaggered toward the teacher.

In a low voice she asked, "Jim, what are you planning to do when you get out of school?" "Me? Ha! With my dad's connections, I'm going to the Air Force Academy." Ginger smiled. She had the answer. "Great, Jim," she responded. I just happen to have a sample copy of the ASVAB test that is given to students to let the Armed Services know what their math abilities are. Pilots have to earned a high score on the math section to be considered for training. Let's go get it now and you can look it over.

Once Jim had attempted the test, he seemed chagrined and disappointed. Ginger followed up immediately with an individualized program, using the computer system for tracking and placement. Jim was a whiz on the computer. Over the year he made significant gains in math through learning to program the computer. Ginger used alternate teaching methods and Jim's own impetus to keep him moving toward flight school and high math achievement.

Teacher as Educational Leader

  1. Works without dogmatism or disorganization to promote student growth
  2. Shows skill in working with individual students and small groups
  3. Models openness to new ideas and methods and openly values diversity
  4. Shows respect through acceptance of individual differences, learning, personality,
  5. Works with ease in a structured setting - warmth, patience, firmness, high demand
  6. Provides assists to help children overcome problem behaviors;

      makes allowances for things which are unchangeable
      recognizes and verbalizes some conflicts as irreconcilable
      calls for self control, honesty, constructive expression of feelings
      helping attitude rather than overly approving or permissive
      views rules in the context of ends

  7. Projects self as an "Honor Teacher, aware of teaching Honor Students"
  8. Sees self as accountable and energetically embraces choices and challenges of leadership and innovation
    - adapted in part from Cruickshank & Paul, 1968; Pearl, 1972

True leader:
  1. Desire to really know students and shows appreciation for diversity
  2. Willingness to be energetically accountable to self and students
  3. Willingness to negotiate honestly
  4. Recognition that some conflicts are irreconcilable

    1. does not push for pseudo-agreement
    2. defuses to prevent violence
    3. watch for hostility and revenge and separate as needed

  5. Ability to view rules in the context of ends
  6. Prevent overly reinforcing docility
  7. Modulates roles of leadership and control
  8. Eschews punitive stance
  9. Uses reward and praise with dignity rather than as a manipulative tool
  10. Uses warmth, kind words, friendliness, helpfulness, appropriate touch to promote student leadership
  11. Promotes the students as active participants and does less than half of the instructing, talking, teaching, participating - instead is in the energizing, empowering and interacting mode more than the directing mode
      Examples: accepting feelings, accepting and using ideas, asking questions after a response (Flanders, 1970)
  12. Willingness to give the benefit of the doubt to ALL!
Inducer / persuader

The teacher as Inducer/Persuader takes on the educational leadership role of high task commitment and high relationship. While respecting student freedom to learn, and projecting an impression of unique possibilities yet untried, the teacher is very explicit, provides a strong sense of organization and provides guidelines for expectations and outcomes. The students, in their turn, feel valued as learners; they sense a largeness of dimension yet understand how to direct their energies. Little is taken for granted with respect to expertise. Steps for success are described, practiced and evaluated. Reciprocity is created; commitment is demanded.

Characteristics of the High Task, High Relationship Role

    recognizes student as individual
    aware of and interested in studentsā world
    respects studentās autonomy
    acknowledges studentās unique subjectivity
    affirms studentās innate powers
    aware of whole person, not just the mind
    accepts diversity and levels of development within class
    sensitivity to communication breakdown
    joyfully incites to learning
    personally enjoys teaching
    playful yet demanding in approach to teaching/learning
    appreciates being useful
    cultivates largeness and breadth of spirit
General Aptitudes for this leadership role
    finds ways to learn about students
    creates positive first impressions
    explains and thus expands boundaries of classroom, through appropriate facial expression, gestures, body movements
    sets atmosphere for reciprocity
    moves onto studentsā wave length
    inspires student to believe in their abilities
    tactfully broaches and discusses communication problems
    accepts previous knowledge and experience of students as a given
    creates exercises and assignments which help students connect with their previous knowledge and experience
    creates assignments which interweave cognitive and affective levels
    initiates students into "flow" activities involving relaxed concentration
    learns to help students to sustain interest by creating contrasting activities and assignments
    creates activities and assignments which balance use of skills with new challenges
    uses appropriate humor to induce learning: avoids misuse of humor
    shares own thinking and learning process with students
    becomes attuned to rhythms of students to adapt leadership styles as needed
Student Aptitudes called upon
    responds positively to teacher
    appreciates teacherās concern and respect
    learns to trust in teacher
    personally relates to teacher
    gains confidence in self and abilities
    is attentive and receptive
    becomes activated and finds satisfaction in responding rather than controling
    learns the value of relaxed concentration through "flow" activity
    sees learning as enjoyable and playful rather than boring or anxiety-ridden
    begins to view habitual world in new ways and recognize its value
    connects previous knowledge and experience with new world of subject matter
    sees broader aspects of subject
    reads/studies out of interest and for understanding
    begins to make personal investment in learning
    appreciates humor in classroom
    becomes more aware of other class members
    begins move toward intrinsic motivation in learning
    from Reinsmith (1992) pp. 44-47
A single atom of the sweetness of wisdom in a manās heart
is better than a thousand pavilions in paradise

- Abu Yazid l-Bastami

Teacher as Inquirer / Catalyst

This role creates new awareness, a new consciousness of the possibilities of education on the part of the student. The student is encouraged to take a pivotal involvement in the activities of learning and human growth. The teacher is prepared to move into a more intimate relationship with the student - one in which they engage each other face to face with equal energies.

Characteristics of the High Task, High Relationship Role

    builds on and tests relationship of trust
    affirms studentās metaself
    accepts moving from known to unknown
    confronts student with new world of learning
    disturbs studentās complacency
    creates cognitive conflict in student
    creates a positive tension in the classroom
    provokes student to question assumptions, attitudes, unquestioned values
    catalyzes student to move into more relativistic state
    asks, but doesnāt answer questions; raises rather than solves problems
    emphasizes that students ponder questions rather than seek easy answers
    holds students in firm regard while sounding them out
    acutely aware of questioningās impact on student
    introduces students to thinking beyond informational or basic knowledge level
General Aptitudes for this Teacher role
    adroitly uses questioning process - proceeds by degrees
    designs questions which challenge students to think and handle new concepts
    designs questions which challenge students to question assumptions, values
    provides patterning of questioning which students can internalize
    senses when cognitive conflict can be too great
    able to gauge emotional impact of questioning on individuals
    assigns reading materials which move students into new territory
    creates exercises and evaluative procedures that are provocative, challenging
General Student Aptitudes
    begins to live with dissonance and conflict both cognitively and affectively
    becomes familiar with questions which require thought and reflection
    learns to question attitudes and values
    expects questions which move one to broader levels of perception
    learns to internalize questioning process
    learns to hypothesize and raise new questions
    begins to question others
    learns to view questioning as essential to learning and knowing
    is more at ease harboring questions that donāt have immediate answers
    is more activated to move from know to unknown; learns to connect old knowledge with new
    learns to enjoy challenging reading materials
    achieves a new awareness of learning process
    eager to take more responsibility for learning
    completes move toward intrinsic motivation in learning
    increases respect for teacher from Reinsmith (1992) pp. 66-67
Every man's condition is a solution in hieroglyph to those inquiries he would put.
He acts it as life before he apprehends it as truth.


I would like to beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday, far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
- - Rainer Marie Rilke

It's not how much you do, but how much love you put into the action - Mother Teresa

Work is love made visible -Kahlil Gibran

There is only one teacher
--- life itself

-Charlotte Joko Beck



This teaching role gives clarity to the understanding that the student has reached the point of being a willing and competent learner, that the role of the teacher can be advanced to a sense of collegiality in looking together for answers, moving to recognize paradoxes, to quest for deeper meaning, to validate questioning as an advanced state of self education.

Characteristics of the Low Task, High Relationship Teaching Role

    available and open
    initiates discourse and shared inquiry
    both directs and participates
    reduces psychological size
    shifts energy flow from self to group
    listens attentively
    inspires personal response
    creates mutuality and cooperation
    keeps materials flexible and open ended
    thoroughly knowledgeable in subject area
    aware of diversity of class members
General aptitudes for this teacher role
    initiates and sustains discourse effectively
    able to induce group interaction
    employs own knowledge indirectly in interests of group discussion
    employs questions oriented toward shared inquiry
    allows adequate ćwait timeä when questioning
    makes use of student remarks to move discussion on
    helps group distinguish between real and apparent misunderstanding
    employs exercises in skills of empathy
    creates opportunities for students to take positions different from their own
    gives students practice in clarification and precise usage of terms
    opens student to richness and subtleties of discourse
    moves group to function on both cognitive and emotional levels
    probes learning materials in more detail
    moves group members to see dialogue as communal knowledge sharing
    increases own awareness of each studentās unique subjectivity
    works on reducing own biases in regard to students
    helps group to recognize and deal with diversity in backgrounds and values
Student Aptitudes
    intrinsically motivated to engage in discourse
    takes equal responsibility for success of discourse
    comes alive as a person through relationships
    practices higher learning skills via discussion
    converses form adequate knowledge base
    sees discourse as natural way of learning
    able to state own position clearly
    able to clarify and distinguish among terms
    learns to examine subject material and issues in more detail
    becomes aware of both cognitive and affective aspects of learning
    learns to identify with positions of other class members
    comes to view learning as open ended process
    appreciates communal aspect of learning from Reinsmith (1992) pp. 96-97
Facilitator / Guide

Characteristics of the Low Task, Low Relationship Role

    respects and affirms individual learner
    non-invasive and indirect
    responsive to studentās initiative
    corroborates studentās new view of learning
    moves into studentās line of vision
    flows with studentās energies
    allows student to struggle
    adjusts to studentās learning style
    continually aware of studentās experience
    draws student out
    confirms value of life-experience of student
    holds high expectation for student
General Aptitudes for this Teacher role
    sets up contexts for active learning and discovery
    assists students in diagnosing learning needs
    asks leading questions to draw out knowledge already existing in student
    assists student in laying out educational plans and learning objectives
    inductive - moves from particular to general from concrete to abstract
    able to create and sustain group learning activities
    knows when to structure and when to allow free play
    able to provide and encourage critical feedback
    able to delegate and shift control to students
    moves students toward collaborative rather than competitive learning
    creates exercises that foster communication and mutual support
    creates exercises in small group dynamics
    creates learning activities that involve students in higher learning skills
Student Aptitudes
    sees center of learning inside oneself rather than in external authority
    becomes fully activated and makes new demands on self as learner
    experiences a need to learn
    able to follow own line of vision with assistance from teacher
    able to diagnose own learning needs
    able to tap into past experiences and apply to present circumstances
    able to create general educational goals as well as specific learning objectives
    uses higher learning skills: analysis, problem-solving, application, synthesis
    able to evaluate own learning
    able to fuse internal needs with institutional requirements
    moves toward personal meaning orientation
    able to work productively in small groups
    sees fellow students as resources for mutual learning
    appreciates diversity of group members
    able to disagree articulately with other group members
    contributes toward consensus within the group
    able to summarize and critique reading materials
    able to connect ideas in different reading materials
    able to create new synthesis from disparate ideas
    able to constructively criticize ideas and presentations of others
    at ease in presence of ambiguity and open-endedness
    views learning as on-going from Reinsmith (1992) pp. 129-30
Teacher Power

The power base for the educational leadership role comes from the full repertoire of teacher powers. The ability to be an effective educational leader rests on the ability to make good choices... combining the proper role for teaching with type of task and amount of commitment to task with student motivation.

all ignorance toboggans into know
and trudges up to ignorance again

- e.e. cummings

Teaching Roles graph

Life is a song - sing it.
Life is a game - play it.
Life is a challenge - meet it.
Life is a dream - realize it.
Life is a sacrifice - offer it.
Life is love - enjoy it.

- Sai Baba

Collect a for completing this reading!

Once you have completed this topic you should:

Go back to Teaching Roles

E-mail J'Anne Ellsworth at Janne.Ellsworth@nau.edu

Course Created by J'Anne Ellsworth & Center for Technology Enhanced Learning

Copyright © 2001 Northern Arizona University

Module Door FAQ's ...ask Detective Lizzie Module Map Jungle Lizzie Module Objects Email