Re-Imagining Leadership

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Each school year inevitably gets very busy in the fall as academics are in full swing, professional learning is occurring and there is an insurmountable amount of logistics to take care of.  Most important is building culture within the school environment and engaging families.  This year, despite my best efforts to stay positive and organized, it has seemed like the workload has increased to a level that I can no longer keep up with.  In fact, the stress of the job has had a significant impact upon my work life balance.  

As I strived to get back to a better version of myself, I recognized how I was leading had changed. Change in the sense of what my focus had been had shifted and this had allowed me to find time for professional growth, personal well being  and positional growth.  Here is how I re-imagined leadership:

  1. Focus on the things that I can control  

As a leader, we must prioritize our work and know what must be done now and what can wait (and what may not get done and that is ok).  This prioritization allowed me to focus on things  I can control and those that truly  make a difference …..supporting its people. In other words, I blocked out the negative posts and naysayers who constantly found what was wrong instead of trying to help find solutions.  Furthermore, when we think of “focusing on things we can control” that specifically includes the following:

  • Put others first and focus on the best in people
  • Empower others to help make a difference
  • Celebrate the successes of our work and embrace our failures
  • Make decisions on what is best for kids
  1. Communication must be adapted to meet the needs of all stakeholders.  This means the information I  share with students, staff and families must  be adapted to each group. For example, for our staff I have strived to build in many positive feedback methods or ways to help them feel valued. Specifically, I have tried to find more time for 1:1 conversation, written notes and ways to build them up. They need it and deserve it.  For Families, it includes providing listening sessions to hear their struggles and suggestions on how we can improve. For our students, the communication included making video clips to connect with our students while they were distance learning. Overall the adapted communication should be:
  • Concise 
  • Consistent and authentic
  • Connect back to the work of the school 
  • Provide platforms for feedback 
  1. School Community Engagement 

As leaders innovate ways to move schools forward, sometimes we forget one of the most essential ways is to involve the people outside of the building. In other words, it is important to build partnerships with the parents/school community and strive to make meaningful, trusting connections with the parents that you can partner with on behalf of the students.  To create this climate, leaders must provide the platform for parents and reasons for them to work/learn with you.  This rapport is developed one conversation at a time when you get the chance to listen to the parent and share your beliefs on how you want to help support their child.  Does this take time – most definitely; but creating trusting relationships with the parents is one of the most important things leaders can do.  This year I have incorporated many daily 1:1 Zoom calls with a parent and their child in an effort to help a struggling student.  It also has included Zoom sessions with all parents as a way to be transparent about our work. I have reminded myself the best way to develop parent engagement is by listening and then supporting them to help be part of the solution.

  1. Create Trust with those you serve 

Trust is developed by small interactions….relationships are built 1:1. The more opportunities I can interact with students, staff and families in small settings then I have a greater chance to help them feel valued. I have strived to create regular opportunities for human interaction that builds relationships by being more visible in classrooms, in car line and at student events.  I have also strived to create the conditions or environment where people feel cared for, supported and nurtured. This simply means to put people first – always.  Modeling the behaviors we want from others is the best way to set the tone in a school environment. How I respond with words, actions and my attitudes will reflect the mindset we set in our building.This will influence others in their actions and their actions will become habits over time.  Habits will become the culture of a building and this is how you build trust 

Leaders remove barriers and find ways to turn problems into opportunities. They set the tone and have the single greatest influence upon a school’s culture.  As a leader I tried to adapt and understand what I must do differently to be the most effective leader for our school community during this pandemic.  This year is one where my leadership approach has had a”pivot”. I hope this adaptation will allow not only stronger leadership for those I serve but also for me to find a better work life balance and put people at the center of my decisions and time. True leadership occurs by intentional efforts when you work extremely hard to improve your own learning and that leads to an improved school. I encourage all leaders to reflect upon your prior experiences and recognize how you have adapted your work. When you can self-analyze your past and what you learned from those experiences, it allows you to focus on spending the right efforts towards building trust. It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

Published by

Lead Learner Prespectives

An educator for 22 years with 11 of those being a building administrator. I have found that the more I learn form others and their experiences it helps me grow and learn as well. I hope you join our journey as we create learning environments for students and staff that create future success.

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