How do you know?

http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-2200500024
http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-2200500024

Two years ago, my principal and I were walking down the hallway, chatting about the day somehow the conversation moved to how I thought I needed to start grad school.

“Administration?” she asked with a smile.

No way,” I said without hesitation.

I’m sure I could have been a little more sensitive and said “maybe” instead of dismissing the idea completely, but it was something I had never considered. At the time, I had only been teaching for 4 years. I was very focused on improving my teaching and thought that focusing my grad school work on teaching and learning would be something I would enjoy. Administration wasn’t even in the picture.

But in that moment with my principal, a seed was planted. I started to wonder if leadership was a path I should take. Over the summer, a building leadership opportunity came my way. If I took it, it would mean less time in the classroom and more time working with small groups of students, working with teachers, analyzing data and coordinating testing. So, I did a quick pro and con list and decided to go for it.

I’m finishing up my second year in this position that I was fortunate enough to get, and I can firmly say that I’m glad I am going down this path. Leadership is a new found passion and interest. I’m one year into my educational administration program and I will be starting my principal internship this fall.  I would have never guessed I am where I am two years ago.  So, how did I come to realize building my leadership skills was the path I wanted to take?

  • I started following blogs and folks on Twitter that focused on educational leadership.
  • I reflected on what I am passionate about (student learning, innovative teaching, and building relationship) and made a plan for blending that into a leadership style.
  • I exercise and develop my leadership vision by speaking up and sharing my thoughts more.
  • I listen more and ask lots of questions.
  • I do want I can to remove roadblocks for students and teachers so they can act on their goals and passions.

All of this continues to help me know that this is what I want to do moving forward.  It gives me energy and the successes are addictive.  Honestly, I’ve realized that we are all leaders in our own right. Students, teachers, and parents are all leaders in moving a school’s progress forward.  I just needed time to look inward at myself and figure out just how far I wanted to take this path.

If you are wondering if developing your leadership is something you might be interested in doing, here are a couple of links to blogs that helped me realize building my leadership skills was the right path to take for me:

A “To-Be” List for Aspiring Leaders by Angela Maiers

Leaders Should Be Learners (video) by George Couros

Are You A Teacher-Leader? at Getting Smart

6 SIgns of a Natural Leader at SmartBlogs

How do you know?

http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-2200500024
http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-2200500024%5B/caption%5D

Two years ago, my principal and I were walking down the hallway, chatting about the day somehow the conversation moved to how I thought I needed to start grad school.

“Administration?” she asked with a smile.

No way,” I said without hesitation.

I’m sure I could have been a little more sensitive and said “maybe” instead of dismissing the idea completely, but it was something I had never considered. At the time, I had only been teaching for 4 years. I was very focused on improving my teaching and thought that focusing my grad school work on teaching and learning would be something I would enjoy. Administration wasn’t even in the picture.

But in that moment with my principal, a seed was planted. I started to wonder if leadership was a path I should take. Over the summer, a building leadership opportunity came my way. If I took it, it would mean less time in the classroom and more time working with small groups of students, working with teachers, analyzing data and coordinating testing. So, I did a quick pro and con list and decided to go for it.

I’m finishing up my second year in this position that I was fortunate enough to get, and I can firmly say that I’m glad I am going down this path. Leadership is a new found passion and interest. I’m one year into my educational administration program and I will be starting my principal internship this fall.  I would have never guessed I am where I am two years ago.  So, how did I come to realize building my leadership skills was the path I wanted to take?

  • I started following blogs and folks on Twitter that focused on educational leadership.
  • I reflected on what I am passionate about (student learning, innovative teaching, and building relationship) and made a plan for blending that into a leadership style.
  • I exercise and develop my leadership vision by speaking up and sharing my thoughts more.
  • I listen more and ask lots of questions.
  • I do want I can to remove roadblocks for students and teachers so they can act on their goals and passions.

All of this continues to help me know that this is what I want to do moving forward.  It gives me energy and the successes are addictive.  Honestly, I’ve realized that we are all leaders in our own right. Students, teachers, and parents are all leaders in moving a school’s progress forward.  I just needed time to look inward at myself and figure out just how far I wanted to take this path.

If you are wondering if developing your leadership is something you might be interested in doing, here are a couple of links to blogs that helped me realize building my leadership skills was the right path to take for me:

A “To-Be” List for Aspiring Leaders by Angela Maiers

Leaders Should Be Learners (video) by George Couros

Are You A Teacher-Leader? at Getting Smart

6 SIgns of a Natural Leader at SmartBlogs

Book Recommendation: What Great Principals Do Differently, by Todd Whitaker

Image

Each time I work on my grad school coursework or read a book on leadership, I find myself revising my leadership vision and philosophy.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed in trying to remember and organize all of the great ideas I come across.  I have a notebook in Evernote where I’m collecting ideas and articles, and I am keeping a list of “When I’m Principal” so that I can remember what I’ve be thinking about when it comes to developing my leadership vision and philosophy.  

I recently read What Great Principals Do Differently: Eighteen Things That Matter Most, by Todd Whitaker.  It is an excellent book for those interested in the principalship.  I found that the eighteen things that Whitaker includes are a great framework for developing my leadership philosophy.  For example, I know that someday I will have the opportunity to hire a teacher.  It goes without saying that this is a very important duty for the principal.  As Michael Smith puts it, you’re about to sign someone to a 35 year contract.  Also, Whitaker feels that hiring the best is the quickest way to improve a school (p. 49).  Both of these points underscore the importance of this task.

I know that I will want the very best person for the job, but that doesn’t provide guidance for how I can do that.  Whitaker offers some clarification for this important task.  

Some principals look for candidates who are a good match, teachers who will fit in and become like their school.  Great principals have a different goal: to have the school become more like the new teacher. (p. 49)

 

This is just an example of how instructional Whitaker’s book can be for current and future administrators.  As I said before, I feel like I now have a framework for organizing my ideas as I develop my leadership philosophy and vision.  I highly recommend picking up a copy!

Book Recommendation: What Great Principals Do Differently, by ToddWhitaker

Image


Each time I work on my grad school coursework or read a book on leadership, I find myself revising my leadership vision and philosophy.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed in trying to remember and organize all of the great ideas I come across.  I have a notebook in Evernote where I’m collecting ideas and articles, and I am keeping a list of “When I’m Principal” so that I can remember what I’ve be thinking about when it comes to developing my leadership vision and philosophy.

I recently read What Great Principals Do Differently: Eighteen Things That Matter Most, by Todd Whitaker.  It is an excellent book for those interested in the principalship.  I found that the eighteen things that Whitaker includes are a great framework for developing my leadership philosophy.  For example, I know that someday I will have the opportunity to hire a teacher.  It goes without saying that this is a very important duty for the principal.  As Michael Smith puts it, you’re about to sign someone to a 35 year contract.  Also, Whitaker feels that hiring the best is the quickest way to improve a school (p. 49).  Both of these points underscore the importance of this task.


I know that I will want the very best person for the job, but that doesn’t provide guidance for how I can do that.  Whitaker offers some clarification for this important task.

Some principals look for candidates who are a good match, teachers who will fit in and become like their school.  Great principals have a different goal: to have the school become more like the new teacher. (p. 49)

This is just an example of how instructional Whitaker’s book can be for current and future administrators.  As I said before, I feel like I now have a framework for organizing my ideas as I develop my leadership philosophy and vision.  I highly recommend picking up a copy!

“Ugly” Plans

I’m in the middle of reading The Learning Leader: How to Focus School Improvement for Better Results by Dr. Douglas Reeves, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in educational leadership.  The author provides great research-based information with implications for school improvement.

Chapter 5: What Matters Most-From Planning to Performance is a chapter that resonated with me.  Last year was my first year in a leadership role in my building.  One of my roles was as the building’s intervention assistance team (IAT) coordinator and one of my goals was to have a clear, simple process for teachers and team members to use when targeting a student’s skill that needed to be strengthened.  Writing out that process and turning it into a handy-dandy flowchart of next steps was something I labored over (way too much).

By February, I began to realize that there were other factors that were not going to be solved by a flowchart of steps.  These factors included team members who were confused, but didn’t communicate that to me; teachers who just needed help, not more paperwork; and my inexperience in the role.

I decided that if I want the process of helping students through IAT, I needed to slow down, talk less, and listen more.  I started to adjust the process to the teachers and students that were involved.  I started to differentiate my rigid process.

Page 63 of “The Learning Leader: How to Focus School Improvement for Better Results” (Reeves, 2006)

Dr. Reeves points out that school buildings/districts often create written plans that are clean and organized.  However, these plans are often left unchanged and the leadership remains determined to stick to the plan even though variables, like student demographics or budget short-falls, have occurred.  This rigid implementation of improvement plans are why many of these schools are still spinning their wheels trying to make gains.

Dr. Reeves says that research shows that “ugly” plans, ones that change as the variables change, are plans that respond to the changing needs of the school building.  It made me think of my own classroom teaching – I never stuck to the lesson plan, I just responded to the students.  So if it works in the classroom, why shouldn’t it work at the building or district level too?

As I continue to develop my philosophy of leadership and learn about principal best practices, I am relieved to know that research shows that even the best laid plans need to respond to the unexpected variables.  I will certainly run into a few of those as a principal.

"Ugly" Plans

I’m in the middle of reading The Learning Leader: How to Focus School Improvement for Better Results by Dr. Douglas Reeves, and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in educational leadership.  The author provides great research-based information with implications for school improvement.


Chapter 5: What Matters Most-From Planning to Performance is a chapter that resonated with me.  Last year was my first year in a leadership role in my building.  One of my roles was as the building’s intervention assistance team (IAT) coordinator and one of my goals was to have a clear, simple process for teachers and team members to use when targeting a student’s skill that needed to be strengthened.  Writing out that process and turning it into a handy-dandy flowchart of next steps was something I labored over (way too much).

By February, I began to realize that there were other factors that were not going to be solved by a flowchart of steps.  These factors included team members who were confused, but didn’t communicate that to me; teachers who just needed help, not more paperwork; and my inexperience in the role.

I decided that if I want the process of helping students through IAT, I needed to slow down, talk less, and listen more.  I started to adjust the process to the teachers and students that were involved.  I started to differentiate my rigid process.

Page 63 of “The Learning Leader: How to Focus School Improvement for Better Results” (Reeves, 2006)

Dr. Reeves points out that school buildings/districts often create written plans that are clean and organized.  However, these plans are often left unchanged and the leadership remains determined to stick to the plan even though variables, like student demographics or budget short-falls, have occurred.  This rigid implementation of improvement plans are why many of these schools are still spinning their wheels trying to make gains.

Dr. Reeves says that research shows that “ugly” plans, ones that change as the variables change, are plans that respond to the changing needs of the school building.  It made me think of my own classroom teaching – I never stuck to the lesson plan, I just responded to the students.  So if it works in the classroom, why shouldn’t it work at the building or district level too?

As I continue to develop my philosophy of leadership and learn about principal best practices, I am relieved to know that research shows that even the best laid plans need to respond to the unexpected variables.  I will certainly run into a few of those as a principal.