An Ode to the Leaders of Learning by Dr. Tom King

by Guest Author, Dr. Tom King

An Ode to the Leaders of Learning

Hey, you, Socrates, take one step forward……everyone else, take one step backward. This is a battlefield promotion. You’re the Leader! It’s not the Superintendent. It’s not even the Principal. It’s you!

Like Socrates, you, teacher, are your own leader. You are the one and true leader of the learners entrusted to you. You lead your learners. And more:

  • you respect them all,
  • you take them as they are,
  • you encourage them endlessly,
  • you never give up on them,
  • you affirm them with praise and encouragement,
  • you send them back to their task when the product of their work is lacking,
  • you elicit from them the answers to questions they never thought they knew,
  • you expect their best from them, always,
  • you model learning for them by remaining yourself a learner,
  • you tell them failures are just another step to knowledge,
  • you truly care for them, each and every one.

And at last, when they leave your classroom, you send them on their way with their own fishing poles and toolkits for learning how to learn.

YOU are the leader! A fellow teacher may encourage you. A principal who truly cares about you may have your back.

But no Superintendent has ever led you into your daily battle against ignorance. No superintendent is in your classroom to help those kids who need help right now. No superintendent gives you kudos when it’s due or help when you need it most. No Superintendent passes on the culture and the breadth and depth of what we need to know.

Superintendents may be required by law. A teacher is required by students. A teacher is the real and true leader.

Dr. Tom King is a retired math teacher, the founder of the Saturn School of Tomorrow, adjunct professor for 35 years +, husband, father, grampa, friend, tennis and golf partner, coffee buddy, reader, photographer, poet, and a marveling lifelong learner. He blogs at Tom King’s Blog of De-Fog and tweets by the handle, @profTK. Read his previous contributions to Teacher Reboot Camp.

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell),, and on her blog,, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at


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