Teaching encompasses leadership knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Teachers, as professionals, draw their leadership power from competencies, influences, relationships, or expertise, but current leadership models position teachers as followers and leaders. The magnitude of teachers as educators or leaders in schools is prodigious, particularly in the 21st century. Teachers are not merely disseminators of information and knowledge. Teachers are the driving forces, and they can promote change, influence, and transform society at large. As part of their effort, teachers manage, change, mentor, and impart knowledge and noble values. To reach such an esteemed stage, a teacher is expected to pass through different stages of their careers such that they add value to themselves and society at large. The professional progression for teachers could be in a way referred to by the acronym(s) Teaching, Research, Author, Publisher(T.R.A.P). & Training, Consulting, Board Member and Coach(T.C.B.C.).
Teaching has transformed into a worthy career option
Gone were the days when a person wanted to take up the noble profession of 'Teaching & Educating'; family and others would have recommended the aspirant to think twice. 'Teaching' as a profession has respect and status in society but still was not recognized as a rewarding career option. Two major reasons for teaching as a profession not so glorified as a career option. Firstly, it was considered that the teaching profession does not yield good returns; secondly, the growth in the teaching profession was considered motionless. Many perceive that once anyone becomes a teacher, (s)he must be a teacher forever, and there is no possibility of growth into higher layers of leadership. However, today the situation has transformed, and teaching is also considered a worthy career option. As is the case in all professions, to reach the pinnacle, the teacher should pass through a graduating process and follow career progression through Teaching, Research, Author, Publisher. & Training, Consulting, Board Member and Coach.
Whether a person joins as a teacher at a school or university level, both have ample opportunities to demonstrate their higher-level skills such as leadership and coaching. The change in the perception and availability of abundant opportunities for teachers is because present-day society values 'Education' as well as ‘Educators’. Everyone wants their next generation to be highly educated and highly research-oriented. Against this backdrop, teacher career paths are also becoming more straightforward and rewarding. On the other side of the academic value chain, the academic institutions are also encouraging the teachers to be more creative, innovative, and research-oriented such that the students in specific and society at large get the supreme benefits.
Teachers expected to have a wide range of skills
Today, a teacher is expected to have all those skills that a seasoned corporate leader should have. Thanks to Outcome-Based Education (O.B.E.), teachers are now in control of the outcomes of their academic and research activities. Unlike in the current scenario, the academic institutions are putting many valuable resources at the teachers' disposal so that the teacher progresses in their career and provides quality academic inputs. Above all these, the best part of the story is that progressive corporate firms and other forward-thinking organisations are collaborating with eminent teachers and researchers for exchange of valuable inputs for mutual growth.
Against this backdrop, young minds aspiring to be academic leaders are expected to follow a meticulously drawn career plan which could move from classroom teaching to being a corporate coach. Initially, a person with abundant knowledge and an inclination to disseminate the knowledge could join the educational institute as a teacher. In due course, the teacher would need to update his/her knowledge and skills; for this, the teacher has to take up ‘Research’ as an option. Once the teacher has become a researcher, the teacher is expected to share original research insights with peers and others by becoming an ‘Author’. If the quality of the research work is respectable, then the networking begins, and the author is expected to turn into a 'Publisher' to help others publish. In simple terms, the teacher needs to be in a T.R.A.P., which means the teacher is progressing from TEACHING to RESEARCH to AUTHORING to PUBLISHING. With all this done, a teacher could now be an 'Academic Leader' in the form of a VC, Director, Dean or Program Chair etc.
Progression through T.R.A.P. and T.C.B.C.
Once the four stages of T.R.A.P. are crossed, the teacher also looks toward the corporate world. The teacher could collaborate with the corporate world to share his research work, such that the corporate benefits. Along with sharing research work, the teacher is also expected to be part of corporate "Training'. Corporates consider a teacher with original research work and training skills for the next level, i.e., 'Consultant'. If the consultancy advice of the respective teacher is yielding results, then there is a possibility of the teacher being nominated as a Board member. Once the teacher escalates from teaching to providing strategic inputs during Board meetings, the teacher may become a 'Coach' to the budding C.E.O.s. The second part of the career progression is referred to as T.C.B.C. All these progressive points on the career path are rewarding in many ways. The attribute that a person who prefers to take up teaching as a career option should possess is that (s)he should have an open mind and a willingness to think progressively and collaborate for a better future. The progression of T.R.A.P. & T.C.B.C. may look a bit tough and requires focus, but it is not at all impossible.
Let all the teachers get into T.R.A.P and pursue T.C.B.C because it is the teaching community which either makes or breaks the future of any nation. When teachers prosper, nations also prosper.
This article is co-authored by Prof. Pardhasaradhi Madasu, Associate Professor, S.S.I.M., Hyderabad and Dr. Srinivasan. R. Iyengar, Director, J.B.I.M.S., University of Mumbai.