When I began in the profession of teaching 26 years ago, the role of a teacher was very clear. The role of teacher was to teach a group of students a set curriculum. The leadership opportunities for teachers, other than leading your classroom of students, were limited to department chair opportunities and few curriculum committee positions.
In the last 10 to 15 years, the role of the teacher is changing for teachers to be leaders early on in their profession. In the article attached from Learning Forward, they describe teachers today as a hybrid role. These hybrid roles allow teachers to lead in policy changes and pedagogy without leaving the classroom. The article discusses the example of one teacher in Florida that developed a professional learning community through video conferencing where teachers can learn from each other.
Through this hybrid role for teachers, it may give good teachers an avenue to do what they do best both in the classroom and giving them some leadership opportunities as well. Teachers are definitely on the front line and can certainly be a great resource to policy makers, research teams, curriculum developers, and to each other through professional learning community.