Controlling the Controllable: The Infancy Stages of Teacher Leadership

Make no mistake, there will be a ton of things that you can’t control as a classroom teacher. Instead of focusing on the things outside of our control, why not put all of your energies into the things that you can control. By focusing on controllable factors, it allows you to put more emphasis on your development as a teacher. Focusing on things outside of your control puts you in a negative stratosphere, creating an environment of complaining, while sustaining a learning atmosphere thats not in the best interest of students.

Managing Your Classroom:

As a classroom teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools my classroom was my peace. It was my escape from all of the ails that existed in the system. I was able to establish classroom norms, and create systems geared toward a normalized learning experience for students. I knew I could not control the trauma experienced by some of my students in their homes. But rather than focus on the things I couldn’t control, one of the things that I knew I could control was establishing a safe space for my students to learn.

High Expectations For Students:

Students that experience trauma in their homes more than likely have self-esteem issues. These students don’t want you to feel sorry for them. They want you to show them a way out of their current situation. They want you to believe in them and their abilities. They want consistency, as in you at work everyday. They want to be at the forefront of your thoughts, and they want to know that they can count on you no matter what. Again, I wouldn’t dare ask you to try and control the trauma experienced by your students. Here’s where apathy for your students should automatically activate itself. Your students need you to be clear headed, to raise the bar, and keep it raised. They will rise to the occasion if you believe in them.

Believing in Your Students:

Bloom's Taxonomy | Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

It is easy to become overly consumed by the things you can’t control. After all, we’re only human. Students don’t need humans, they need super heroes. They need you to see the future, and help them in maximizing their potential. Students are going to make you mad. They are going to do everything in their power to test your resolve, but as a super hero, take their antics with a grain of salt, as you are doing this work for the greater good, and your belief in their ability supersedes anything else. Once they know you’re in it, and willing to do anything and everything they need to experience success, relationships move from being contentious, to that of admiration.

Not Being a Bore:

Easier said than done. I refused to be a bore in my classroom. I experienced boredom in schools, and during the times when I was bored, I became talkative (unaccountable talk) and mischievous. In the classes that I was actively engaged, my full attention was on that teacher. Pardon my candidness, but a lot of teachers (at least from my experience) use their classrooms as their soapbox. Students don’t want to hear you talk. The faster you embrace this fact, the faster your super hero senses will activate, allowing you to create “rock star” lessons that your students find engaging.

For more research on utilizing teacher leadership as a catalyst for change in your schools, read this article:

Published by Raymond J. Ankrum, Sr.

Mr. Ankrum is the current Superintendent of the Riverhead Charter School. Mr. Ankrum has gained notoriety as a school turnaround expert. He is enthusiastic about helping students from low (SES) find ways to end generational poverty through educational advocacy. If you believe PoC can end generational poverty by exercising educational opportunities, you have an ally in @Mr_Ankrum.

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