What Defines a Leader

person on a bridge near a lake
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

 

Great schools are developed due to its people, but behind every great school there is a great leader. Leadership is a trait that is the topic of many books, blogs, and podcasts and more. What are the traits that allow some individuals to thrive and find success in a role while others get burned out, have little success and then leave the position.  In this blog, we identify the characteristics that puts individuals in position to have sustained success and strive for excellence. I recognize that all educators want to do “what is best for kids,” but that impact often lies within the ability of the leader to influence and support the adults within the system.

What Defines a Leader

Humility

Many educators strive for years to get to leadership positions. Once they get there, they ask themselves “now what”?  Experienced leaders recognize that having a title means little; rather it is about creating the conditions for success for others. This takes humility. As C.S. Lewis shares, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” Leaders recognize the best way to move an organization forward towards excellence is by maximizing the talents of others.  This means that leaders must put the thoughts of others at the forefront and help others dream for themselves.  In essence, “it’s not about you” is an important quality leaders understand about their role as the focus must be on others.

Innovation

Challenging the status quo is an important skill that leaders must possess. If we are afraid to be wrong, we will never come up with anything new or different. Leaders must constantly challenge themselves; otherwise, they will never realize what they can become.  Leaders must get used to feeling uncomfortable as they push boundaries and think outside the box on how to support and develop others.  They have “strength” as that allows them to overcome the things that they once thought they could not achieve. Leaders have deep sense of persistence, passion and purpose to be the change for others. They recognize that in order to find success for others it will take change, and that change is a result of innovative practices.

Clear Vision and Focus

Anyone can try to make change but a key common component to successful schools is that they have a clear vision and focus. This remains true despite the many fads and ideas that come and go in education.  Leaders clearly articulate the type of culture and environment they strive to create as they adapt to situations, work with others to ignite their passions, and maximize talents of others to attain a shared vision. A phrase that resonates with me from my research is “Organizations are not limited by their opportunity or conditions, but rather they are limited by their leader who does not have a clear vision for the school.”  Leaders set the path and then must continually align all work towards that purpose.

Creating right conditions

Once leaders recognize it is about others then they recognize how to develop others. It is all about the people and starts with developing the trust among staff. Trust is developed by how you as the leader act (character) and how you perform your role (competence). People will follow the leader before they follow the vision. It all comes back to do the people believe in the leader and have relationship with him/her.  Leaders must build relationships, support others in their work, celebrate their successes and times when they failed too.  Leaders develop the culture that allows others to strive for greatness as a desire to do their best for kids.  As Simon Sinek shares, “When we tell people to do their job, we get workers. When we trust people to get the job done, we get leaders.”  Recently, I heard a podcast about leadership that reminded me of a lesson I learned at a young age – “you cannot make anyone change; people can only change themselves. What you can do is create the conditions where change is more likely to happen.”  The conditions include making relationships a priority, listening to others, developing trust and then working alongside your staff as they strive for excellence.

Modeling

In many cases, leaders recognize where they want their school to go, but get stuck trying to get others to get started.  The most effective way to get others to take the first step of change is by how they see their leaders take action.  The simple act of a leader leading by example is often the tipping point to whether or not change can happen.  Great leaders do not tell others what to do, but rather they show how it is done.  Leaders must recognize that change is a slow process….so they must “go slow to go fast” and one of the best places to start is be modeling the desired change.  Leaders must be patient yet persistent in regards to change and modeling will always be a key component of this change.

Servant heart

Humility is an essential characteristic of a leader.  If you expand that to a broader sense, it leads to servant leadership.  Impactful leaders recognize they must:

  • Give more than you get in return
  • Care more about others than they care about you
  • Be kind to people who have been cruel to you

The quote by Simon Sinek sums up servant leadership when he says “Leadership is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.”

Support people, care about them and push them to get better. The success of a leader depends upon developing the talents and success of others.

Lifelong learner

Leaders recognize the importance of constantly learning latest research so they can grow and adapt to change. They also recognize the best competition they have is against themselves to become better. Therefore, they continually self-reflect, ask the right questions of others to get data and use that as means to adjust and strive for improvement.  The secret of success of a leader is found within their daily routine. Leaders continually learn new skills while remembering the core beliefs that drive their passion to support others.

 

I look forward to hearing from you regarding your view of what defines a leader.  Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

What Matters Most

man and woman shaking hands
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In a world where we can collect data on almost anything and we can use computers to help calculate specified criteria, the most important qualities in schools go beyond this.  Schools function as a way to help young people learn, grow from experiences and be empowered to change society. This only happens if educators and schools focus on what matters most – the interactions between the people!

In this blog post, we look at 3 skills leaders must use to build the positive interactions of the people of the school including students, staff and parent community.  It is through these areas that we then are able to leverage positive change, build effective instructional strategies for deep learning and empower others to strive for excellence. Here are the 3 skills leaders must focus on within their work.

  1. Build Connections

Leaders must recognize that all work that is truly effective occurs from the bottom up, not top down. In other words, when staff believe they are trusted and valued as people, they will devote their efforts and energy towards the mission.  Leaders must always be working on building connections with staff, students and parents.  How we interact with others, both verbal and nonverbal, impacts how others feel about themselves and their behaviors.  We must place a high value on helping others feel a sense of belonging and that the school is “our school”.  This is achieved over time through small behaviors such as the fist bump to a teacher who tried something new, a high five to a student who just achieved a new personal best and the listening to a parent when they express concern for their child.  This builds the “family” atmosphere, which is essential to help make school so much more than the brick and mortar. It is important leaders never forget that humor, laughter and the human connection is what makes others feel connected to you as a leader.

 

  1. Share Vulnerability

It is not easy for leaders to share with others our mistakes and failures, but that authentic vulnerability is the spark for cooperation and trust. This demonstrates to others that you have weaknesses but that you also are willing to work hard, have a growth mindset and be resilient as you strive to improve. This type of modeling is often the “tipping point” towards positive change. Leaders achieve vulnerability through active listening, sharing their mistakes, over-communicating expectations and embracing discomfort.

 

  1. Common Purpose

There are so many initiatives and tasks that school leaders are faced with as we strive to improve. It is essential for leaders to keep the focus simple and “laser like” for their staff so there is a clear understanding of the purpose of the work.  We must communicate our vision through stories, emotions and create engagement around the priorities that orient everyone’s behavior towards the goal.

 

The skills listed above allow leaders to build the culture of the school to focus on what matters most. To achieve this work, leaders must recognize the following qualities they must be consistently incorporating into their work:

 

  • Learn – It is essential that leaders make time to get better at their skills and learn from the true practitioners in the field and their best practices.
  • Engage – Develop a sense of trust with stakeholders so that everyone has a vested interest in our work and is actively involved.
  • Adapt – Continuous change will happen in education, so as leaders we must continually adapt our growth to provide the support of others.
  • Delegate – Collaborative leadership and maximizing the strengths of others is essential. This builds the confidence and their capacity to lead.
  • Empower – By providing opportunities for others to learn and try new things, we are giving them chances to take risks, remove fear and provide innovative opportunities.
  • Reflect – Learning is most impactful when we reflect upon that learning experience. It is not important how a person reflects, but making that a consistent part of your work is essential as it helps to drive your behaviors, attitudes and efforts.
  • Serve –Servant leadership is modeling the behaviors we seek, empowering others to try new approaches and put the needs of the school above you.

 

 

By focusing on what matters most, leaders are able to create the conditions that allows others to grow professionally, support others and have positive connections for everyone.  I would be curious on what you believe matters most in your work as a leader.  Reach out to me with comments at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Learn

Empower

Adapt

Delegate

Engage

Reflect

Serve

 

Reflective Practices for Leaders

man using laptop computer

Many times school leaders may think of “year ending” tasks to complete in May or June. In reality, there is no “end” to our work but the constant work of reflecting upon our experiences, adjusting our practices and then striving for greater areas of excellence.  This takes intentional focus and the ability to see things from other perspectives and use data to help drive this reflective work. Leaders grow in their impact upon others through this reflective work and allows the impact of the leader to build confidence in others, impact the thinking of others and their behaviors while developing greater trust. This all supports building collective efficacy and a culture focused “what’s best for kids” in schools.

The areas below are the areas that I use to help reflect upon my craft. In this blog post, I share how I reflect upon the key tenants of my work; a self-reflection that helps determines the next steps and how to create a balance in our work.

 

Core Tenants – Reflection

  1. What are some ways that you connect with your school community? (Fostering Effective Relationships)
  2. What are some areas of teaching and learning that you can lead in the school? (Instructional Leadership)
  3. What are you hoping teaching and learning looks like in your school and how do you communicate that vision?(Embodying Visionary Leadership)
  4. How do you build leadership in your school? (Developing Leadership Capacity)
  5. What will be your “fingerprints” on this building after you leave? (Creating Sustainable Change) 

 

How to take the next steps – A self-reflection

What did I do well this year?

Where do I need to grow?

What things will I challenge myself with next year?

How will all of these answers impact the learners I serve?

 

Reflection on the 4 quadrants within a leader’s role

 Area                   Start                        Continue                  Stop

 Positional role

 Professional role

 Personal role

 Passions or Hobbies

Leaders work extremely hard to serve others, which is very important. However, they must also be intentional upon their own growth and find the right time to think deeply about their work and best methods to continually improve.  We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. I look forward to hearing from you how you reflect and grow as a leader.  Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

 

Learn

   Engage

      Adapt

          Delegate

             Empower

                  Reflect

                       Serve

 

Focus on the right work

Spring is a time of renewal, refocus and energizes everyone after a long cold, winter. In schools, spring is also a tremendously busy time as leaders are working hard to finish strong in the current year but also must focus intentionally on topics for the next school year.

Leaders must always find the right balance within the work and this is ever more important in spring. But what is this “focus”.  It essential that leaders not focus on doing things right, but focus on doing the right things. 

The right work may differ to some extent within a school/district and it may vary to some extent for a person based upon their level of experience.  Overall, doing the right work should involve:

  1. Getting into classrooms to see the teaching and learning experiences. This allows the leaders to continue to support the teachers and understand what barriers exist within their day.
  2. Working with teachers to grow within their role, provide feedback and celebrate wins.
  3. Leaders must also be visible at school events and within the school day.
  4. Leaders must plan and deliver quality PD that is personalized for staff, supports the school goals and district vision.
  5. Communicate to the school community clearly on the progress of the school and its next steps.
  6. Find time to reflect and adjust upon the work of the school. This is same for the leader as a person and within their profession.
  7. Continue to build upon existing relationships and create positive school culture
  8. Get feedback from students, staff and parents about the school journey and involve them in decisions for change

To continue to do this right work – what factors allow leaders to balance doing the right work but also complete necessary mandates, deadlines during the busiest of times?  Here are 6 keys that allows leaders to focus on the right work.

  • Be honest with your limitations – involve others
  • Stay positive and build connections
  • Be organized and look ahead for upcoming tasks
  • Lean on others and stay connected with colleagues
  • Keep kids as the center of our decisions
  • Patience-Calm-flexibility

We each must face decisions daily how we spend our time and what we focus on. Our actions, words, behaviors have significant impact upon those within our schools and their days.

 

I look forward to hearing from you about your thoughts on how you make decisions and what you focus on as a leader.  Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

 

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

 

Sharing your school’s story

Schools are rapidly changing across our country to best meet the needs of learners and prepare students for anything in their future. Educators should be commended for these efforts, as they are empowering learners, changing teaching practices and creating amazing experiences every day for students.

It is essential that leaders share and tell their school’s story to help inform our society upon the positive impact of schools. Here are some ways to consider sharing this story.

  1. Technology – This allows the school experience to be shared with others at any point in time and can reach all over the globe. Showing pictures and sending videos allows connections that was not possible previously. Face-to-Face communication is powerful but not always possible. Consider sharing:
  • Weekly newsletters via video instead of email.
  • Videos or pictures from classroom learning experiences.
  • Share assemblies or special events so users can see the emotion, positivity and human connections that exist in schools.
  • Feedback measures from the community, as it is more timely and efficient.

 

  1. Involve parents – Schools must partner with our parents/guardians as we are developing their most precious commodity – their children. Leaders must be creative on keeping parents informed but more importantly have them experience this positive change in school by:

 

  • Parent Panel – Use your existing parents to share their school experience with parents that are new to your school.
  • Student Showcase – Develop specific nights deemed as “student showcase” where students demonstrate their learning from the classroom to their parents. This reinforces what teaching/learning looks like in our current age.
  • Invite parents in to help lead activities – Teachers are creative professionals but there are times when bringing in parents to share their insights about their profession or serve as the audience to student presentations makes the learning authentic.
  • Create a Parent book study or EdCamp – This is a great way to help parents be familiar with resources, share conversations and learn together on raising children in this ever-changing world.

 

  1. Involve the community – Many people still think of the school experience like it was when they went to school……that can be several generations ago. The school experience now must be different. To help our community understand how schools have changed and to learn with them, consider:
  • Bring in professionals (ex. engineers, artists, doctors, farmers, and tradesman) as ways to help explain a learning activity such as a PBL or Design Thinking. Their expertise is powerful for students making connections to the current world.
  • Use an EdCamp model at “Back to School Night” or” Meet the Teacher” as ways the community can share their resources with families.

 

  1. Involve Students – Students are the reason we have schools and they are cultivating the society we will live in. Consider how can we have students share their experiences by:
  • Writing to other students (ex. pen pals) in different parts of the world.
  • Using Skype, blogs, vlogs or others to connect with classes from different regions.
  • Have student led conference so students are empowered to be the change.
  • Have mock debates or presentations with your local government or civic organizations on areas of conversation within your community.

A leader’s job is to have the vision of positive change within schools but they must involve others in telling the story.  This allows everyone to see the quality work of the teachers and learning of our students. Leaders must aspire to be the best for their school and at times, that means allowing others to help tell the story.

 

As you strive to learn and stretch yourself as a leader, I would be curious on how you tell your schools’ story.   Reach out to me with comments at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Learn

Empower

Adapt

Delegate

Engage

Reflect

Serve

 

Importance of Positivity

There are things in life that are outside of our control. However, there are also things in life that we can control. This includes our actions, beliefs and behaviors towards others and situations.  How leaders act in our interactions with others is important. It is a strong indicator about our leadership. In this blog post, we look at how the “Importance of Positivity” is an essential component of great leaders.

There are many ways positivity helps leaders find success within a school. One of the goals of a leader is to develop others and that means doing what is best for the school. This can be achieved through how we treat others in our words and actions. Listed below are 3 main ways that positivity will help influence and impact others.

  1. Find inspiration in our work and places greater value on the process
  • This focuses your efforts on people – that is how we improve schools.
  • This allows you to make a difference in someone else; they will then do the same for others.
  1. Positive energy is contagious – influence today then others will do it tomorrow
  • If you love the people you lead, then that will create trusting relationships. Over time that will allow you to change people’s behaviors.  This is developed from authentic actions that are meant through sincere and real comments or behaviors.
  • The following quote resonated with me.; it read “Great schools are divided by the inability of the adults to recognize, accept and celebrate differences. Leaders must create the conditions where staff are valued and support each other.” This is something I remind myself of as far as what am I doing to value each staff member and create the conditions where they are the difference (teacher efficacy).  Leaders can help students by working and supporting the staff.
  • The more we can help affirm others then the Positivity values their potential and makes the person productive.

 

  1. The secret of a leader’s success is found in their daily routine. Make positivity a key part of that routine
  • What you do as a leader has far greater impact than what you say. We must help others feel like a somebody. Your character is more important than strategy when leading people. If we model positivity in our interactions with others, then it will cause a ripple effect within our school and others will also lead with positive intent.
  • Being positive doesn’t mean ignoring negative behavior; being positive means overcoming the negative. So much in our society is negative, so we must find ways to share the success stories of our students-staff-school. It is up to the leaders to decide what to focus on.  If you choose the positive then that will be what is resonating with the school community. It is all about the mindset of the leader.

 

Organizations are not limited by their opportunities; they are limited by their leaders. We cannot allow the daily grind impact us to the point where we are not encouraging others and supporting their work.   Most importantly, by spreading positivity to help others – it also makes you feel good. At the end of the day, someone’s happiness is one of the most important traits with any job. Leaders can find fulfillment in their role by how they support others and lead with positivity.

As you strive to learn and stretch yourself as a leader, I would be curious on how you view the importance of positivity within a leader’s role.   Reach out to me with comments at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Learn

Empower

Adapt

Delegate

Engage

Reflect

Serve

 

 

Developing Others

The saying goes “Great School exist because of its people.”  If you agree with that statement, notice it said “people” and not “principal”.  This is not to say that principals or administrators are not critical to the success of the school. Rather, it infers that it takes all the people:  administrators-teachers-front office and classified staff all working together with a common purpose and mission to make a great school.

For leaders to move their schools from good to great, they must leverage their staff and find ways to develop others.  The questions becomes – “How”.  Here are the essential ways to develop others.

  1. Take time to get to know people

The most significant part of any school is its culture. The culture of a school is created through the relationships between staff members and how staff work with students. The relationships start through conversations. Leaders must be out in their buildings, supporting the work and being visible so staff know the leader is there to support them and cares. Only then will staff be receptive to listening to the leader’s vision. You cannot replace the authentic conversations that occur when a leader is out and about in a building and has the chance to give a high five or say “thank you” to a colleague. Authentic actions are genuine and most impactful.

  1. Develop yourself first and then develop others

It is true. If you want to develop others you must develop yourself first. Simply this means that you must find time to consistently learn the latest strategies, reflect upon your work and seek ways to challenge the status quo. This ensures you are “sharpening the saw” which allows you to be at your best to help others. At the same time, you must create a balance in  our life. Leading others is a marathon – not a sprint – so having a balance is essential.

  1. Maximize teacher’s strengths.

All teachers want to do great things and they care about kids. For leaders, it is critical we ask ourselves “what do they do great” so we understand where they can add value to the school and at the same time can grow.  Then we must find ways to provide a platform where they are given opportunities to help lead in that strength area that impact others.  When a staff member is given the chance to lead an activity or help make a decision then it is monumental for their inner drive. This creates greater confidence as they are empowered to help be part of the change in the school.

  1. Personalized Learning for staff – focus on growth

Yes, we want all teachers to grow in instructional practices, but the reality is there are differences with staff. Instead of wasting large amounts of time and energy trying to get everyone to move from the same “Point A to Point B”, it critical we help everyone move “from their own Point A to Point B.” This can only occur if the professional learning provides different entry points for staff to learn/grow while relating to the goals of the building. Leaders must continually ensure that the professional learning is tied to the goals of the school and staff are clear on the purpose. This allows everyone to “row the boat in the same direction”.

  1. Provide opportunities for reflection and learn from others

The school year is an exciting but exhausting process. It can take a toll on educators despite our best efforts to stay focused. We must intentionally provide ways for staff to reflect upon their experiences as it relates to teaching/learning, professional growth and collaborative practices.  In addition, we must provide a platform where staff feel comfortable sharing this with others so the collective efficacy of our building improves. This allows the staff to learn from their experiences and that of others – the result is GROWTH.

 6. Develop Collective Efficacy

The final component that is needed to develop others is finding time and ways for staff to collaborate.  When educators spend time talking about their craft and best practices, the collective energy increases and teacher realize they are the difference.

 

I look forward to hearing from you on how you are developing others to move your school towards excellence.  Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

 

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

How leaders provide Instructional Leadership

During my journey as an administrator, I have learned from others as I have strived for excellence. Part of this work has been refining my own practices, beliefs and core values as a leader. From my perspective, there are five core beliefs leaders use to create great schools and establish strong cultures. These include:

  1. Foster Effective Relationships
  2. Instructional Leadership
  3. Embody Visionary Leadership
  4. Develop Leadership Capacity within others
  5. Create Sustainable Change

In this blog post I want to focus on Instructional Leadership including what does this look like within a leader’s role, and how can someone excel in this area. Instructional Leadership represents the work leaders do as they create the learning environment where staff feel empowered, take risks and change practices to best meet the learning needs of students. Here are the key components of instructional leadership:

  1. Building trust and relationships

While Instructional Leadership has several components, the most essential is building the relationships and trust with your staff. This takes time and only happens if the leader puts the needs of their staff before theirs and makes intentional efforts to support teachers. Teachers want to do their best for students and leaders must recognize that by supporting teachers they indirectly are supporting kids and helping create amazing school experiences. The relationships and trust happen over time by leaders who:

  • Care about each staff member as a person
  • Celebrate the small wins with the staff member when they try a new strategy
  • Take time to have authentic conversations with each staff member where you listen to their thoughts and ideas.
  • Model the desired behaviors you seek to create in the building including positivity, kindness and mindsets.

 2. Maximizing teachers

Research shows the most significant factor impacting student learning is the teacher within the classroom. Every school has professionals with varied experience, content expertise, and passion to improve. Leaders must understand that they need to focus not on getting all teachers to the same point of excellence, but maximize the strengths of each teacher as they grow as an educator.  This occurs by:

  • Supporting their desire to improve as a professional
  • Push them to improve by understanding their passions, motivate them to see they can be the difference for kids and then empower them to be the change.
  • Build their confidence; influence their thinking that in turns leads to improved professional practices.
  • When you visit classrooms and see growth, share with that staff member praise that is authentic, specific, and immediate.

Leaders must remember that great schools exist because of great teachers.  It is all about utilizing the talents of the staff, maximizing strengths and working together.

  1. Challenge the status quo

As leaders strive for excellence, they also must strive to be lifelong learners. This simply means they maintain a desire to grow as a leader and most importantly, help their teachers to have the same desire. This process can be stimulated by the questions “Why have we done it this way” and “could we do it better”. Leaders can model for teachers this mindset the following ways:

  • Model new strategies with staff through Professional Learning. It is impactful for teachers when they see their administrators be vulnerable and stumble as they try a new approach.
  • Leaders themselves being current on latest education research and best practices.
  • Support teachers when they try something new and it may not work. Leaders need to be there to encourage-support and help the continued growth.
  • Provide the spark for teachers to become “connected educators” with other content specialists and teachers across our country. Share blogs, podcasts, articles and videos with teachers to stimulate their passion to improve.
  • Provide feedback to teachers that supports their work while also stimulating deep learning.
  • Help instill with the staff the mindset of being focused on Growth as an educator. This can be done by having your own staff share best practices with each other.
  • Leaders need to be able to adjust to meet staff needs that in turn impact student needs.
  • Provide platforms consistently that spark reflection upon the instructional work. The concept of reflection is the process that allows an individual to identify what worked, what did not and how changes must need to occur for improvement. True growth and changing our practices only happens with reflection.
  1. Consistent vision

Instructional practices across a building must have the same key focus or vision to truly impact student learning. Leaders create this work by:

  • Clearly articulating the instructional vision for their school. This should be based on best practices that are research based and supports the work of the district and standards.
  • All professional learning work supports these endeavors.
  • Leaders get into the classrooms and have conversations with teachers about “what is working/what is not working”. The conversation drives the relationships and keeps everyone focused on the same path.
  • Remove barriers that are limiting teacher effectiveness. Teachers want to do the best for students, but sometimes our systems limit their effectiveness.
  • Leaders must engage with staff about the change efforts with instruction and empower them to be part of this change.

 5. Instructional Practices that students need

As our work force and society change, so too does the importance of how we are instructing our students. Instructional leadership is critical as it provides the framework that teachers will use to develop lessons and activities that students need to prepare for anything in the future.  We must remember that the focus is on student learning and what instructional practices can be used to help students learn at high levels, develop skills, become empowered and engaged in the learning process.  Here are the key aspects leaders must remember as an Instructional leader:

  • Students need to be actively engaged in the classroom activities. This engagement will lead to students developing skills to become empowered of their own learning.
  • The instruction must include key content but the focus should be on skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. Strategies such as Design Thinking, Project Based Learning and Blended Learning are effective at the appropriate times as they provide relevance topics and deliver rigorous standards.
  • The instructional practices must be researched based that we know impact student learning. This includes:
    • Formative assessment
    • Personalization (student choice)
    • Engaging students and then empowering learners
    • Providing quality feedback to students
    • Students self-assessing their own work

 

Instructional Leadership is just one area in a building administrator’s role. However, it must be a focus area where the administrator spends considerable amount of time and energy working with teachers. This ensures all students are receiving instructional practices that provide deep learning. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts and ideas related to Instructional Leadership.

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

I look forward to hearing from you about your thoughts on ways you grow as an instructional leader.  Comment below or reach out to me on Twitter @clegleiter or at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

How do you make decisions?

Several attributes that leaders possess allow them to be successful. In this blog post, we will discuss one in particular that separates those who excel and those that cannot move their organization forward over time. What is this quality?  It is the important trait of making decisions.

In a school setting, leaders make thousands of decisions daily. While many are routine and follow the protocols and systems put in place, there are some decisions that are very complex and at times, can be potentially emotional for the school community. The thought process leaders use to make these decisions impact how a school community continues to progress, or not, over time.

As I reflect upon my own experience, there are some decisions that I have made in the past that years later I recognize may not have been the right choice. My intent was to help students and teachers, but as I reflect, there were times that I did not consider the entire picture.  As a result, I want to share with you some helpful considerations that will allow you to make well-informed decisions that best serve your school community.

How fast do you need to make decisions?

School leaders face a multitude of decisions in a day. In most instances, the other individuals or groups want an instant decision. However, no decision needs to be made in that moment. The exception is if it involves school safety. All other decisions can wait and that allows you time to process information and make a well-informed decision.

How do I know what factors to consider when making a decision?

It is best practice to consider several factors when facing a decision such as:

  1. Ask yourself “what is the purpose” of this decision?
  2. Will this support our schools purpose or mission?
  3. How will the top 20% of our teachers feel about this?
  4. Have we visited with students about this potential decision?
  5. Have we tried to get feedback from all stakeholders about the topic?

What types of data should I consider when making this decision?

It is critical to use several criteria when making decisions as that allows you to consider all perspectives. Here are the types of data to consider:

  1. Decision specific data (ex. cost, student achievement, time etc..)
  2. Team input data – involve your team (ex. grade level, leadership team etc.) as they may see potential positives or negatives different from your viewpoint that should be considered.
  3. Ask yourself – “what is best for kids” and how will this decision impact our students? Do you have data that shows how it will support or be negative impact upon the students?

What ways can leaders develop a system so decision-making is more clear-cut

  1. Decision-making is complex, but we can make it more simplified. Leaders must provide a FOCUS for their building, so every decision can be considered does it support or go against this focus.
  2. Make a decision separate from emotional perspectives. As a leader, your decisions at times may make others upset, so take time to step away and think through the process.
  3. Have defined core values that you operate by as a leader. This quote from David Geurin “Be Firm with your Principles, but flexible with your practices” shares how leaders must be flexible and adaptable to situations, but their core values and principles must remain intact. This allows leaders to be consistent on their decision-making.

In closing, here are the most important things to keep in mind. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes and there will be some decisions, which years later, we recognize could have been made different. The most important thing is we must develop a core system of beliefs, be consistent in our thought process and focus on how a decision supports/not supports our students and purpose of the school community.  How we make the decisions and express it to others also is critical, as that is what our school community will remember. While some decisions will not be viewed by others in a positive light, we can always be professional, empathetic and show compassion as we share the result.

I look forward to hearing from you about your thoughts on how you make decisions as a leader.  Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

 

Learn

Engage

Adapt

Delegate

Empower

Reflect

Serve

 

Importance of Consistent Growth

Many educators share they want to grow, learn and get better. As the learning experiences must rapidly change to meet the needs of students, this is a critical element of educators in successful schools. However, the question remains “how does someone grow or learn the right way that will lead to sustained excellence”?  I was inspired by a podcast by John Maxwell and wanted to share his insights with you and add my perspectives as well.

The podcast shared how it is critical that we are focused on being Growth Conscious and not Goal Focused.  Yes, it is still important to have goals but being Growth Conscious allows for consistent growth over time. Here is a quick overview of why educators should be growth conscious:

 

  Goal Focused Growth Focused
Focus on Destination The Journey
Motivate People Mature and Shape People
Goals are… Seasonal Lifelong
When goal is reached we…. Stop growing because we reached the end We change the focus and continue to challenge ourselves

 

Here is what I learned by listening to the podcast from my perspective:

  1. It is important to focus on the process and being reflective upon our work. We do not learn from experiences but rather we learn from reflecting upon the experience.  John Maxwell shared that in many instances leaders “overestimate the event and underestimate the process”.  This resonated with me as, just like student learning, the importance is the process and how we overcame obstacles and innovate to be successful.
  2. Growth is not automatic so learners must set aside time intentionally for this purpose. Too often, administrators or other ed. Leaders will get a job and think they have “arrived”. They stop learning and reflecting.  As a result, they stop growing their skillset – both within their position and their profession.  Leaders must take time to reflect, connect with others and innovate on “what do I need to get better at and what resources will get me there”.
  3. Growth is what separates those who are successful and those who are not. It takes time to grow and in many cases is not directly observable on a day-to-day basis.  However, learners recognize the importance of growing and as they do they become more evaluative of their skills that allows for accelerated growth.
  4. Learners who are growth conscious develop an awareness of what they need to grow. This includes identifying what people to connect with, listening to podcasts, books to read and events that stimulate growth.
  5. Leaders grow daily. Leaders who are growth conscious set aside time daily for reflective practices and time for growth. They recognize that they only grow through challenges and take those situations as opportunity to grow.

I am curious how you grow as a learner and what this looks like in your role as a leader.  Reach out to me with comments at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com

 

Learn

Empower

Adapt

Delegate

Engage

Reflect

Serve