I’ve been teaching since 2005 and in 2016 I started my career as an online ESL teacher. Somehow, throughout my career I’ve been offered teacher leadership positions and today I want to share my perspective on why I was invited and how you can get invited, too.
Let me share why I think I got offered teacher leadership positions as opposed to someone else. I think the answer is two-fold. One, I’ve always been personable and professional at work. Two, I am reliable and hardworking. There might be an invisible third layer; my determination and desire to grow. I never showed my determination and desire to grow to anyone, but the leaders around me may have sensed it due to my work ethic. Never underestimate the power of your work ethic and your attitude to lead you to more opportunities.
Pro tip: Complaining is draining. While it is important to challenge authority, you’re much more likely to influence said authority by building a positive relationship with the powers that be. Focus on what you do have in your control by being the best in your field. How can you be the best teacher?
role of teachers
If the role of teachers is to educate and help prepare students for life, how can we go above and beyond to work towards a leadership position especially when our jobs are time-consuming and at times draining? My first suggestion is not to focus on getting a teacher leadership role. Do your job. Do it well. Connect with your boss, current leaders, and the community at large. Be a leader without having the title. Help and serve your teacher community, and opportunities will start to come your way.
One way that I served the online teacher community was through YouTube and Facebook groups. On my YouTube channel I did tutorials and shared tips that I personally struggled with. Once I found found the answers to my own problems through experience I created a video about it. I also created a Facebook group for iTutorGroup and a few years into teaching ESL online I created a general group. Come join my group We Love Teaching ESL Online here. I also have a Facebook page where I go live every Friday at 11:30 am CST to share tips about the industry.
Sharing tips led to iTutorGroup reaching out to me. I believe it helped me get a raise and become a teacher representative. No one explicitly said my YouTube channel is the reason I got those opportunities, but I definitely think it helped me get noticed by the company.
Using social media to share tips also helps me build a community with teachers. It establishes trust and can lead to recruiting people. If you’re interested in recruiting I have a course launching in August to help online teachers Level Up their teaching business.
Importance of Teacher leadership
The importance of leadership positions lies in problem-solving and guiding your community. If you can answer questions for people consistently about a broad topic, you are in the position to be a leader, but that’s not the only skill you need. Of course the ability to navigate different personality types, make tough decisions, and help people work as a team is all a necessary part of leadership. However, in teacher leadership you don’t always need to have all of those qualities because you can work in a specific role that requires one of those qualities.
teacher leadership roles
What are the different teacher leadership roles for teaching ESL online?
- Training or coaching
- Curriculum writing
- Team leader
- Special Projects
When you train or coach you have to be an expert in your field or at a minimum, one of the most knowledgeable people at your workplace.
Usually you have to work several years in a position before someone invites you to mentor. To be a good mentor, take notes on your first year as an online teacher so you remember your struggles and can relate to the teacher you’re helping.
Depending on the subject you could get an offer to write curriculum quickly or after a few years. It all depends on the need.
Getting invited to be a team leader takes the longest because it’s about seniority and experience.
Recruiting requires community leadership and the ability to coach people through the hiring process. You can start recruiting fairly quickly if you are confident about the application process at your online ESL company.
Some online ESL companies hire teachers to do special projects such as video projects, modeling teaching, doing marketing videos or photos, etc. I think these special projects are by invitation only or you might see announcements about them in your online school’s newsletter.
leadership goals for teachers
When you get a leadership position no one gives you a guide so leadership goals for teachers are important. Think about monthly, quarterly and yearly goals. If you’re working towards a leadership position, make a checklist of ways you can get noticed or connect with people who can help you get a leadership position.
leadership training for teachers
If you get any leadership training at all it is usually through video training. In my opinion, the best leadership training for teachers comes from asking questions to fellow teachers. That’s why it’s important to connect with teachers either through Facebook, Instagram or e-mail. Make friends! Don’t immediately ask for help. Genuinely connect with people and be sure to offer your own support in return.
While I have emphasized using social media to gain traction in getting a leadership position, not all leadership stories are the same. I have several friends who were able to get leadership roles by emphasizing their work ethic, ability to connect with students and people at headquarters. There is not one path to getting a teacher leadership role. Your work ethic and skills will be at the foundation of getting a leadership role.