By Sachel Bise, Centenary University

How do you define leadership? How can preservice teachers define leadership?

As aspiring educators, preservice teachers are responsible for setting a good example in the classroom, while guiding students through their academic careers. Preservice teachers are students too, though, and they are learning how to be  good leaders while in the classroom. It is no easy task, but it is one that, when mastered, is a powerful tool.

Students deserve role models and strong leaders. Teachers should take on and embrace these roles, so they can provide students with the best possible school experience.

To instill the importance of these roles in student teachers, NJEA organized a leadership retreat for the officers of NJEA Preservice this past June. It consisted of seminars and group activities focused on the importance of leadership. Going forward, NJEA Preservice is dedicated to meeting the goals developed there to help members learn how to be better educators.

An educator is dedicated to providing students with a well-rounded education and inspiring them to lead an informed life. Teachers help students open doors and take advantage of opportunities. The development of teachers who can provide such an atmosphere is important to NJEA and is a major focus of preservice professional development this year. More specifically, NJEA Preservice is homing in on the three R’s: relevancy, revamping and relationships.

  • Relevancy: Social justice-based curricula, philanthropy and practical professional development.
  • Revamping: Increase membership by sparking individual fires, the ambassador/mentorship program, and revamping the organization by means of communication.
  • Relationships: Building connections between preservice chapters and re-establishing regional meetings.

These three R’s will improve the organization, but more importantly, they are the product of collaboration among preservice teachers who are on the same mission. They are future leaders who have the power to make a difference.

For teachers being a good leader is part of the job. NJEA is working hard to help members become great leaders and develop valuable skills. Members have opportunities to get involved, whether it be by participating in professional development and by putting a stop to the Pearson-created edTPA performance assessment that preservice members endure. The goal is to learn to be the best and most informed educator possible.

Successful leaders pay attention to the world around them and take others into consideration. They also allow the world to educate them and keep them focused on everyone’s best interests. A great teacher will do these things as well, and a great teacher will be a great leader.

John C. Maxwell of Purdue University has published 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow. Some of these qualities are commitment, communication, relationships, character and listening. These are also some of the essential characteristics of a strong, powerful, and capable teacher.

Teachers must be leaders for all the students they encounter in the classroom. Every child deserves a powerful leader and a positive role model. After all, don’t we all have someone we admire who helped transform us into the extraordinary people we are today? Be that for someone else, embrace your inner leader. You never know what good could come from it.

Does your school host student teachers and practicum students?

Students who are preparing to become teachers are the future of our profession and NJEA leadership. That’s why it’s vital that you encourage preservice educators in your school to join NJEA Preservice.

A part of NJEA, the preservice organization offers professional development opportunities. NJEA Preservice members host their own conference and attend the NJEA Convention along with NJEA members.

NJEA Preservice members lead the profession on their respective campuses and go on to become local association leaders after graduation. To sign up for membership, visit njea.org/preservice.

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