Welcome to a Teacher’s Notes

The story behind teacher’s notes begins with a teacher on a journey


Endowed with looking within at my thoughts and perceptions of what makes a teacher leader, I wondered if I was it. Once I formulated my definition of a teacher leader, I looked for a teacher leader advocate policy. I saw figurative darkness filled with gloom. There was no evidence of a teacher leader role in Taiwanese cram schools. My little corner of the Taiwanese educational world had figurative and literal darkness as I stared into a dark chasm (the camera and a blank Zoom screen) while teaching. I have never laid eyes on our administrative staff. How could I be led? Who will mentor me? Who will I mentor?

The story begins...

It was a time to think. It was a time to reflect. Initially, I found everything fascinating and motivating, as though I was standing in a brightly lit room. Thoughts came flooding into my mind. I started thinking that I could become a teacher leader. An enthusiastic, happy tone came over me. Positive expressions from my peers influenced me. I was invigorated thinking about sharing my new knowledge to inspire my co-teachers to reach new heights.

But then a gloom of darkness was around me, the reality of my current situation. I am sitting in front of a computer touching lives six days a week in almost every corner of Taiwan. I inspire my classes without once laying eyes on one of my fellow teachers. I have calmed the fears of many students in the absence of mentor training. I have uncovered teaching gems and student patterns in the solitude of my 13” cell (screen).

ASCD/NEA and Hanover Similarities:

  • Step-by-step guide on implementing teacher leadership
  • Support for beginning teachers – step-by-step procedures
  • Formal criteria for teacher leader roles
  • Compensate teachers for their roles as a leader
  • Principals must support
  • Unification of teacher and principal
  • A collaborative environment with fellow teachers
  • Flexibility and creativity are valued
  • Ongoing support and training
  • Teacher leaders operate formally and informally 
  • A framework of concrete actions 
  • A view that teacher leaders improve schools


  • Whole child philosophy 
  • Teacher leaders help create leadership policies
  • A view of all teachers are leaders
  • Teacher leaders improve schools
  • Teacher leaders are leaders, not principals
  • Adult learning training to train co-workers
  • Continued training in their roles
  • Working within the community for effective communication
  • A play-it-forward concept
  • Teacher leaders need to be afforded time to lead
  • Able to work with and generate data
  • A distinction between career teachers and master teachers 
  • Facilitating a bridge between students, fellow teachers, and principals
  • Focus on retaining younger generation
  • Assists fellow teachers in research and development 
  • Adult learning training to train co-workers
  • Encourages and makes full use of existing technology
  • Working within the community for effective communication
  • Advocate for students and fellow teachers
  • Reassessing accountability and control over other’s classrooms
  • Extending the training to more than in-services

The two research articles point to the need to cultivate teacher leadership. The greatest obstacle to success is when they do not collaborate with policymakers. The NEA looks toward local and federal agencies. The writings acknowledge a need for standards and systems to be in place. The NEA asks to remove barriers or walls, so teachers can have the ability to move from state to state. The ASCD displays a greater focus on viewing the whole child.
Do the public schools in Taiwan reflect the sentiments of ASCD, NEA, or Hanover? With further research, I found that this is not the case. While they have the goal of education, the process is different. Non-native English-speaking teachers (NNEST) are willing to work with native-English-speaking teachers (NEST). However, many came across as offended or insulted by the prospect of co-working with NEST. Ironically what was one of the biggest gripes? As one teacher expressed, “I feel that foreigners are quite stubborn. It seems that it’s hard to persuade them to change their thought. .… They might be very direct with me if they don’t like my lesson plans (Wang, 2011).”

Wang (2011) added that many interviewed NNESTs would prefer to work without NESTs because they were “troublesome.”  The researchers noted that the NNEST’s culture encourages teaching in isolation.  That was a decade ago, and Taiwan now offers an international ELMD – Education Leadership and Management Development degree.  Is it possible that Taiwan has done a 180 in ten years?

(Photo Caption) Stumbling around in a dark system looking for the light switch

I was ready to give up when I found a professional learning community (PLC) policy explored within the last six to ten years in Taiwan. Even as recently as 2020, there has been concern about how well rural schools benefit. PLC was birth from two segments, business sectors, and educational contexts. One of the looming challenges is that most NNESTs look at most interaction with fellow instructors as PLC. 

Some of the other current issues are:

  • Lack of time to incorporate PLC 
  • Teachers already feeling burdened
  • Lack of funding

 “The teacher education system is comprised of diversified, reversed, and selecting methods. Teachers who teach in preschools, primary schools, junior high schools, and senior secondary schools are trained in universities of education or normal universities with teacher training departments or centers. These institutions are also responsible for providing inservice training and guidance for local educators. As of February 1, 2018, the training of teachers uses qualification tests before conducting internships and selects a necessary number of students through exams with just the right qualities, thus implementing a training system for the teaching and internship of homeroom teachers (MOE, 2022).”

Taiwan has a new vision, “White Paper.” It promotes “teachers’ ethics, responsibility, conscientiousness, and sustainability” core values. 

It sets out to: 

  • Improve the selection and cultivation of teachers
  • Cultivate specific teachers for specific needs 
  • Improve the internship system to turn out pre-service teachers 
  • Conscious of new and rural teaching needs 
  • Organized and practical in-service for teachers 
  • Motivate professional development and evaluations
  • Integrate organized and innovative administration of teacher training 
  • Bolster universities’ teacher education 
  • Craft personnel to improve the quality of Taiwanese education

Life in the Dark

I have recently learned that you can keep a plant alive in a room with very little light. The leaves on my plant are still green, and although slow, it grows. I will progress. I will grow. I may not be in a district with a dynamic teacher-leader policy that satisfies the needs of its teachers and students, but I can grow. Without plainly visible like-minded educators at my fingertips, I need to stay rooted and abreast of current pedagogical developments through other channels and means. Like the plant, I need to grow towards the light (knowledge that can develop me). My growth may prove slower than others that bask in the warm climate of a teacher leadership atmosphere, but with the training, I am receiving now, I can affect my atmosphere. I can make it for the better, like my little plant.


ASCD. (2015). Teacher leadership the what, why, and how of teachers as leaders. www.ascd.org

Hanover Research. (2014). Supporting teacher leadership programs: Prepared for Iowa education agencies. District administration practice. Retrieved from https://educateiowa.gov/documents/teacher-leadership-and-compensation-system/2018/06/supporting-teacher-leadership-programs

Ministry of Education Republic of China (Taiwan) . (2022, June). Educational System. https://english.moe.gov.tw/cp-126-17722-3fb83-1.html

Sat, A. (2021, April). Taiwan’s Cram School Conundrum:The effects of chasing perfection. Global Association of Chinese Creativity. https://www.gacctaiwan.org/post/newsletter210425

Shih, Y. H., Chen, S. F., & Ye, Y. H. (2020). Taiwan’s “White paper on teacher education”: Vision and stratifies. Universal Journal of Educational Research, (8)11. 

Teacher Leadership Exploratory Commission. (2011). Teacher leader model standards. Retrieved from http://http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/TeacherLeaderModelStandards2011.pdf

Wang, L. Y. (2011). Taiwanese pre-service English teachers’ attitude towards Native-English-Speaking-Teachers and Native-and-Nonative-English speaking-teacher team teaching. English Teaching & Learning, 35(2).