April 9, 2019 by

Finding your path to teacher leadership

No two teachers have the same path to teacher leadership, but it’s all too easy to compare oneself to others.

Teachers Rebecca Mieliwocki and Joe Fatheree know the challenges of going from teacher to teacher leader, both from personal experience and from months spent interviewing fellow teachers for their new book, Adventures in Teacher Leadership: Pathways, Strategies, and Inspiration for Every Teacher. The two, joined by collaborator Katherine Bassett, discussed the process on a recent episode of ASCD Learn Teach Lead radio.

“Your teacher leadership journey starts where you’re at today and you shouldn’t be judging it against anyone else and sometimes that’s very easy to do,” Fatheree said.

Mieliwocki said, while every teacher they interviewed began their journey in a different way, they shared the desire to improve their classrooms and their schools.

“They all wanted to pursue a solution to a problem they were experiencing in their work or explore and add some contour to adventures they wanted to have with their classrooms and kids,” Mieliwocki said. “The things they had in common were they were compelled to do more, to do something different, to make it better.”

So, what steps should an aspiring teacher leader take to make positive changes in their classroom and in their school? First, Mieliwocki and Fatheree said, find your tribe. Finding that “coalition of the willing” starts by seeking out like-minded individuals in your school itself, in your school district, and in your community.

After that, it’s about building relationships, collaborating, and sharing your work with others. Key to the process is looking inward and making sure you’re open to evaluation of all kinds, including scrutiny.

“Leadership starts with self. You have to be able to look deep inside and take a real reflective look and say ‘Who am I? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses?’” Fatheree said.

Listen to the full conversation between host Rachael George and Adventures in Teacher Leadership collaborators Rebecca Mieliwocki, Joe Fatheree and Katherine Bassett here. Be sure to subscribe to ASCD Learn Teach Lead radio on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or Stitcher.


Rebecca Mieliwocki and Joe Fatheree are co-authors of Adventures in Teacher Leadership: Pathways, Strategies and Inspiration for Every Teacher, which includes an introduction from Katherine Bassett. Mieliwocki is 2012 Teacher of the Year and Fatheree is 2007 Illinois Teacher of the Year. Katherine Bassett is CEO of consulting company Tall Poppy and a co-founder of RAD Science. She is the former president and CEO of NNSTOY.