It seemed just like yesterday we started this school year and now we are several months into the 21-22 school year. In a few months we will be entering the final quarter of this school year. That is how fast, at times, it feels like the school year goes. I believe this comes back to how busy leaders are, the vast amount of workload and how vested we are in striving to help others. As I reflect upon the last few months a little closer, I have been perhaps the busiest I have ever been in my 26 years in education, but I don’t want to miss out on great opportunities to build connections with others, develop others and make a positive impact upon the school I lead. I believe the answer lies in that I must remember to “Walk Slowly Through The Crowd” and have the mindset to slow down at times to focus on the right work with others. As I reflect upon this idea, I recognize that I can do better and I must do better if I truly want to help make an impact in the busiest year yet.
Leading within schools is busy with new aspects added to our plates like contract tracing, covering for shortage of workers in para positions, kitchen staff, and custodial support. As a result, our workload has increased and taken on even greater capacity. However, as I reflected that being “busy” at times doesn’t always mean we are being more productive. We must find ways to slow down and have meaningful connections with others. Where this occurs may be at carline drop off -pick up, monitoring lunch for students, walking through the halls during passing periods or just finding yourself going into classrooms to observe teachers working with students. There are multiple opportunities that leaders have and we must capitalize on Walking slowly through the crowd as it provides the following impacts:
- Leadership is developed daily…..not within a day.
As a leader our behaviors, actions and words matter. As John Maxwell has shared, most humans learn from experiences and interactions as research shows 70% of what they learn is visual or through experiences (remaining is 20% from mentoring and 10% from formal training or reading). So if a leader is visible and interacting with others it gives you a greater opportunity to model the culture you desire to create in your organization and connect with others. It also allows you to be more aware of potential barriers or issues that you can help find solutions for.
- “Where your focus goes, your energy flows”
This quote was said by Tony Robbins. For leaders, it is very easy to get caught up in handling the management of unfilled subs, covering classes, dealing with Tik Tok Challenges and student behaviors. This is important and at the moment they must be handled. However, if that is where we spend all of our energy and efforts daily…..then how will you be helping your building over the long term move forward with instructional work or building culture ? The answer is your organization will be stagnant and very little growth will occur. Leaders must have an intentional focus on how they can help their buildings improve to help students. This is reflected by your intentional energy you put into leading staff professional learning, leading with clear communication and connecting with others so you develop them as leaders. These are the things that will make a difference.
- Develop others so they multiply the impact
When you walk slowly through the crowd you can help others as you learn their strengths and how they can develop as leaders while increasing the impact upon your organization. If you can spend some time working with others, you will increase their confidence by listening to them, walking with them or model how things need to be done and support them as they lead endeavors. On the front end, this will take a little time but over the long haul they will start to carry more of the workload and be able to have a broader impact for your organization.
- How you treat others matters
People understand leaders are busy – they get it. But they also will remember when you stop and listen to them, take that phone call on a Friday night at 5:30 p.m. or respond to an email late at night. We cannot do everything, but we can place people at the forefront of our decisions and actions. How we lead with character, kindness and empathy is important. Leaders are not perfect, we will make mistakes. Own up to your shortcomings or when you are at fault – lead with vulnerability. But if you lead with a servant leadership mindset it will make a difference. It will allow staff to feel valued, retain them in our building so there is consistency in your staff and school improvement efforts. For students, this is important as they will develop a sense of trust and connections and from that foundation greater learning can occur. As a parent, I feel a sense of calm knowing that a leader cares about my children and that increases my engagement in the school. That is what I aspire to create for conditions for my parent community.
Educators must remember that creating positive change must be done with intentional efforts that transform the organization with a focus on the culture, learning and leading people. This can be done by Walking slowly through the crowd as our daily efforts matter, energy is in the right work, we develop others and we treat others with respect/kindness. Growing as a leader can only happen if you intentionally spend time looking at your mistakes, learning from experiences/others and then adjusting to your work. 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 how when you “Walk Slowly through the Crowd” as a leader you can have your greatest impact. Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org