Summer is here and for educators it provides a much needed rest time and break. This sacred time is most important for recharge, getting away and reconnecting that maybe isn’t possible during the school year. Summer also affords itself more time for leaders, where there are less interruptions, to have more dedicated time for learning and reflective thoughts where ideas can be evaluated. I like to think of summer as providing the opportunity to use the Power of Windows and Mirrors where we look back (mirrors) and reflect to help us learn, adjust and plan a vision to look forward (windows).
Leaders recognize that their ultimate purpose is to help others grow and develop, but they must first grow themselves. Summer is a great opportunity to spend time on the “mirrors” – reflecting on past years experiences, mistakes, learning from failures so it can be applied moving forward to your professional and positional growth. This reflection can be done individually but like all learning, when we learn with and from others the collaboration impact deepens the learning experience. Leaders may want to consider how to involve their teams or other like minded individuals in this practice to “reflect-adjust-grow”. Here are some examples of prompts or ideas I have used to reflect upon the previous work in the year.
Mirrors (reflecting upon past experiences)
Here are questions I use with others that I serve so they can provide me feedback.
- What do I do well leading our school improvement efforts?
- What are areas of this work that need to be improved to support you?
- How can my communication strategies be improved to better inform you?
- What are areas where I have challenged the status quo that have resulted in improved efforts within our school and student learning?
- What are areas that I have blind spots where I am not aware that it is detracting from our efforts?
Learning from my staff, students and parents this late spring with feedback has allowed me to understand what others say I do well, what I do that has a productive return for my school community and what can I do that I can keep getting better at to help others.
I firmly believe as a leader that it is essential to have other like minded educators to learn from and to push my thinking. If you are part of a professional learning network or have other leaders to collaborate with, consider the following:
- What should I learn from you?
- How has failure shaped you?
- Where do you spend your time and effort to grow as a leader?
Windows (what practices will I put in place moving forward to strive for continuous improvement)
The opportunity to learn from others about my work and for me to reflect upon my own work has allowed me to further develop my core beliefs. This feedback served as “windows” or things that I must continue to implement as part of my work moving forwards. This includes importance of the following skills:
- Importance of humility and vulnerability when working with others
- Inspire a shared effort
- Model character in decision making and day to day interactions.
- Communication is essential to success
These affirmations allow me to set goals for myself and involve our building leadership team to set school improvement goals for our school. To help clarify and be intentional with efforts even more, I developed a 30 day x 60 day x 90 day plan for my own growth as a leader and also a plan for leading our school. I highly encourage all leaders to set this type of timeframe as it allows you to be intentional with your time and efforts and have a daily focus on your work.
Educators must remember that creating positive change requires that we must be intentional with our efforts. Furthermore, leaders need to meet the needs of the people by learning their strengths and help coach your staff so they can stretch and grow as leaders too. For your building or organization, leaders must continually identify how to see the current reality and prioritize how to be efficient but yet effective. In many cases, this means you must go outside your comfort zone as a leader and try new strategies to learn and grow. Combining this with the continued effort of connecting with others at deeper levels to develop trusting relationships provides a focus on positive culture and learning. It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. I encourage you to reflect and better understand “The Power of Windows and Mirrors” as a leader and how summer provides a great opportunity for growth. Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org