2016 Reflection on Leadership

Leadership requires learning what needs to be done, sharing in the doing, and actively communicating the process. Meanwhile leaders are role models that should acknowledge and learn from their mistakes as they seek the best from others.  I want to be known as hard on problems, but not on people.
When I served as our local association president I saw how different teachers responded to the expectations placed upon them. While everyone needs to be held to high standards, there is a way to share those goals while working to minimize the amount of stress caused unnecessarily. It may be as simple as offering to remove something from someone’s plate before adding to it, or as complicated as finding the supports needed until the person is able to balance their own plate.
Several years ago I was told the things we love we make beautiful. I’ve found it to be quite accurate. Leaders need to care. The decisions leaders make on a daily basis must be competent and consistent. This doesn’t mean they will always be right, but they will have been done for the right reasons which will allow relationships to grow.
Educational leadership is leadership with a focus on meeting the needs of every learner. It is about empowering people to be the best they can be by holding high expectations for everyone, giving them the opportunity to fail, and the supports they need to try again, improve, and succeed.
Creating a culture where people do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and because they want to, will be transformative. In a recent interview a prospective teacher was asked what it means to go above and beyond and they captured this when they said, “to never give up.”
As an educational leader I don’t ever want to forget what it was like to be a teacher. And with that in mind I have a list of things I don’t want to forget when I move into full time administration.
  1. Don’t hold it against a teacher that is only working to their contract.
  2. Teachers have enough to do, so if administration gives them something extra, they should take something away
  3. Only start a program you are willing to implement with fidelity
  4. It’s okay to polish someone else’s star
  5. Listen
  6. Continue to teach, learn, and grow…
Teaching is a profession that may take all that one has to offer, and for many it will. However, a teacher's contract represents only the minimum requirements, and for good reason. Commitments vary.  Mrs. Shewlakow described this as one being at a different stage of one's life or at a different place on one's journey: the newlywed, the new parent, the suddenly single parent, the coach, the caregiver…
Please keep in mind that one teacher may devote their life to their students and teaching, and another only part, but both are vital. Even when one's intentions are not to work just to the contract, there are times that may require just that.  Knowing the requirements of one's contract allows one to balance responsibilities and desires while meeting the demands of one's chosen profession.
If compelled to dedicate your life to teaching, please do.  Just remember it is not required by a teacher's contract, even if it is in the best interest of students. Life surprises us!  What we may be able to give this year may not be possible next. 
As an educational leader I want to listen, learn, and love as I build relationships based on trust to achieve goals greater than ourselves. I want to empower others to make necessary changes, celebrate their success, and take responsibility for the failures. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I should have done more to support you,” when it’s the case. Together, we will all make a difference.

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