Tag: servant leadership



I wrote a post recently with ideas for creating school environments that are supportive and help students “show up well” and ready to learn. A positive school and classroom culture can help overcome some of the negatives in a student’s life that may be impacting their emotional and educational well-being.



In the post, I also mentioned that adults who work in schools must also work at “showing up well.” We have to take care of ourselves and each other to have the type of supportive environment that we all need.



Teaching is stressful. In fact, teaching seems to be among the most stressful professions in America. A 2014 Gallup Poll found that nearly half of all teachers reported high levels of stress from the previous day. It was the most stressful profession in the study, slightly ahead of doctors and nurses in terms of reported stress.




http://mypinkyfinger.blogspot.com/2015/06/i-retired-no-really-i-did.html

Stress takes a significant toll on the individual, but it certainly impacts our effectiveness as educators, too. If teachers are feeling high levels of stress or are otherwise emotionally drained, it is not possible to show up well and meet the needs of students.



So why are teachers feeling so stressed? There are a variety of factors. Heavy workloads, challenging student behaviors, lack of autonomy and voice, and high stakes assessments might be a few reasons. Some of the factors are completely out of the control of educators. And some of the factors are just inherent in working with kids. It’s awesome to work with kids, but stressful at the same time.




Everything we do is about making life better for others! Never leading scorers…we love the ASSISTS! #KidsDeserveIt pic.twitter.com/WdV5s5Thmi

— Salome Thomas-EL (@Principal_EL) August 6, 2016

There is an important truth in this quote from Salome Thomas-El. We can’t always control the weight of our load. We have to look for ways to find the strength we need to show up well and be our very best. Our #KidsDeserveIt!!!



If you are struggling to show up well in your classroom, it can result in anger, resentment, frustration, depression, and other hurtful emotions. Actually, these emotions will probably show up from your students, too. As educators, what we model is typically what we get. 



Here are some ideas on resilience for teachers and taking care of your own mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. I’m not great at all of these, that’s for sure. But I recognize their importance and how they help me to be my best when I do have success in these areas.



1. Focus on your purpose and the meaning in your work.



A recent Edutopia article explained how stress in itself is not necessarily bad. Stress tends to be negative when it doesn’t seem like it is meaningful. I’m reminded of the pain mothers endure in child birth, and yet it is worth it (so I am told) because of the miraculous value of bringing a child into the world and being a mother. In fact, moms often willingly do it all over again. The deep meaning of the experience must make it worth the pain.



2. Recognize you are making a difference.



This letter posted by Danny Steele on his blog really captures the commitment and dedication of teachers. You are making a difference. 



3. Build a support system at work.



We need people at work who believe in us and who inspire us. Surround yourself with people who energize you. Stay away from energy vampires, who might suck the life out of your day.






4. Develop a support system away from work.



Beyond work, we also need healthy relationships that strengthen us. It’s tough to do life alone, and we all need to rely on others. If you are struggling to find your support system, try to be that person for someone else. Giving to others is a great way to find people who can also lift you up.

5. Learn to say no.



Focus on the things that are most essential to your mission and purpose. Being busy isn’t a happiness killer in itself. But when you are too busy doing things that you aren’t even passionate about, that’s a sure recipe for burnout.



6. Make spiritual wellness a top priority.



My spiritual life is important to me. I need to nurture my relationship with God and rely on him for guidance if I’m going to show up well and be my best for my students. 



7. Relieve stress by exercising.



When I feel stress or anxiety building throughout the week, a long run does wonders to help me relax. There are so many bad habits we can turn to as a stress reliever. But exercise is good for you and helps ease the stress.



8. Eat well.



I really struggle to eat well. I love fast food, pizza, and ice cream. But when I am eating too much of the wrong stuff, I can tell it impacts my ability to be my best overall.



9. Set boundaries.



Healthy people don’t let others run over them. They set boundaries and they communicate their thoughts and feelings to others. A lack of boundaries will eventually lead to simmering resentment or angry outbursts. Ask for what you want. But also listen to others and respect their boundaries. 



10. Practice being grateful.



Gratitude is one of the most powerful things you can do for your emotional health. Be honest with yourself about your struggles, but also be always grateful. There are blessings in each day and even our difficult circumstances have the power to make us better if we choose to grow.



11. Forgive yourself and others.



Let go of things that are in the past. Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. As educators, we have to be willing to forgive. Bitterness is a heavy burden to carry.




https://quotescover.com/wp-content/uploads/Its-one-of-the-greatest__quotes-by-Maya-Angelou-69.png



12. Remain always hopeful.



If you’re like me, you don’t want anything to feel like it’s out of your control. You desire a sense of security and predictability. But life doesn’t work that way, and the only way to have peace is to give up on worry and live in the present moment. Our worries tend to live in the past or in the future. Hope is believing good things are possible and headed our way. In the mean time, we must live in the current moment.



13. Have fun!!! Enjoy the journey.



Last Friday, I had a lip sync battle at lunch with one of our other teachers. It was for a good cause. We were raising money for Care to Learn, a charity that helps students in need. But it also helps me to not take myself too seriously. I like to joke around and make laughter a part of each day.



Lip sync battle for Care to Learn! #goliberators pic.twitter.com/8k5oa8iHIc

— Liberator Counselors (@LibCounselors) November 4, 2016



14. Keep learning and growing.



Whatever problem you may be facing, you have the power to do something if you are willing to learn and keep growing. I don’t feel as stressed when I feel like I can learn from my difficulties. I view challenges as opportunities for growth, instead of stress inducing burdens.



15. Take risks.



One of the biggest regrets people have is playing it too safe. If you really want to get the most out of life you have to be bold and take risks. 






Question: How are you working to “show up well” for your students? How are you managing stress as an educator? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More Are You Showing Up Well For Your Students?

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” -Stephen Covey



Making good decisions is important for all us. Whether we are working with students, with parents, or even with colleagues, our decisions ultimately define our success. And the key to better decisions is better thinking. We must never make a key decision in haste. Instead, we should consider the problem from everyone’s perspective, collect advice, and ask ourselves the questions that will help us make the wise choice.



Our decisions can have a big impact on the school, learning, and ultimately our students. So it’s very important to make the best decision possible. Of course, I often make decisions and then come to realize later that with different information or a different perspective, I might have acted differently in the situation. When we make decisions we are doing the best we can with the information we have at the time.

That’s why it’s so important to ask tough questions to make sure the decision is the best one possible with the available knowledge. I want to think through my decisions and test my thinking with questions that help me clarify my values and ensure that I’m acting in a way that is congruent with my beliefs. I want my actions to line up with what I believe and what I profess to others.



These seven questions have helped me make better decisions. I’m sure there are others you could add to the list as well, but these are the ones that I keep going back to.

1. How can I help you? 



This first question is the essence of servant leadership, the leadership approach that recognizes leadership is service and turns the old paradigm of leadership on its ear. Leadership is not about power over others, or being in charge. Instead, it is about helping followers be successful. It’s about helping others reach their goals. Robert Greenleaf coined the term servant leadership, and he described it as a type of leadership that strives to help followers be healthier, wiser, freer, and better able to be leaders themselves. Leadership does not just create followers who are dependent on the leader, but it creates new leaders who are able to extend their influence and become change agents.

So as I make decisions, I must always remember this question, “How can I help you?” This question begins with empathy, the ability to see things from another person’s viewpoint in a caring way. Sometimes I need to speak the words aloud and offer to help. Other times my actions and attitudes may demonstrate this mindset even if the words go unspoken. But my goal as a leader must always be to help those around me be the best they can be. If someone in my school needs anything I can help provide to be successful, my job as a leader is to try to move mountains to get it done.



“The secret to success is good leadership. And good leadership is about making the lives of your team members better.” -Tony Dungy.

2. Is this good enough for my own child? Would I want this for my own child? 



As a parent I will do just about anything to support the success of one of my kids. I want them to have the best opportunities possible. I want them to have the best teachers, and I want them to have experiences in school that cultivate a love of learning and lead them to find who they are as people and as learners.

As I consider situations in my school against this high standard, there are times when I realize we’re not quite there yet. There are things that need to improve to best meet the needs of students. I guess there will always be areas to improve, but I don’t find this discouraging. Instead, I find it exciting to know that we can create better opportunities and continue to grow so that every student finds optimal success.

I will share that this question has helped me to find clarity on tough decisions in the past. When there are times the task may seem too big or the obstacles insurmountable, asking this question has helped me stay focused. I’ve also used it with others in my school to help frame a situation on a personal level. Parents don’t want excuses about why something can’t be done, they want heroic action that overcomes any hindrances and ensures that their student is receiving the best.

3. Will this decision preserve or attack the dignity of a child? 



Our words are very powerful and can do great good or great harm. By considering this question, it helps me focus on the humanity of a child in each situation. We must always strive to build up and not tear down. We must treat others with dignity and respect. As Todd Whitaker writes, great teachers and principals treat every student like they are good. We must presume positive intentions and come alongside students to help them succeed. 



There is never a place in a positive school for cutting sarcasm, public humiliation, or harsh treatment of a student. Even the best teacher will occasionally make a mistake in how they treat a student, but we should work quickly to restore any break in the relationship. When everyone in a school makes decisions that consistently preserve dignity and respect, the culture will be one of mutual cooperation and shared success. I explored this topic in greater depth in a previous post.

4. As I make this decision, what am I ultimately hoping to achieve? 



Part of effective decision-making is the ability understand how decisions are going to impact the goals of the individual or organization. I may be justified and have good reasoning for a decision, but if it is going to ultimately hinder the mission of our team, maybe I need to reconsider my decision. There is great finesse and wisdom in knowing how to help others be successful. Sometimes it means overlooking things that might be personal pet-peeves of the leader.

As we make decisions, we should always consider the purpose of the decision and if a particular action will lead to the purpose being accomplished. We should also consider if the decision will do any harm beyond the main purpose. Many schools have implemented policies to try to fix a specific problem, but have unwittingly harmed culture or created distrust. You must consider if the purpose is large enough or is there a higher purpose that might be jeopardized in this decision? Effective leaders see the big-picture.



5. How does this decision impact learning in our school? 



Some decisions or situations may not affect learning greatly or at all. If this is the case, why make these decisions important in your school? We spent too long trying to solve the issue of whether students should be allowed to wear hats in our building or not. Ultimately, most everyone agreed it really didn’t affect learning so why make an issue of it. Other decisions, however, greatly impact learning. We need to have tough discussions about our schedule, course offerings, assignments, and grading. Are we making decisions based on what’s best for learning or what’s convenient for adults?



I would add one other part to this question. Does the decision have the potential to transform learning in this classroom or school? I think we spend too much time trying to incrementally improve the same stuff we’ve always been doing. We should all be thinking about how we can do things that could be a complete game-changer for our students. We need to think big!

6. If you had no fear, what would you do? 



Sometimes change can be frightening even if we truly believe change is necessary. Fear causes us to hesitate, to think small, and to avoid difficult conversations. We are all governed by fear to one degree or another, but nothing great was ever accomplished without risk and a possibility of failure. We must practice taking risks in small ways and build confidence in our risk-taking to reach for our really big dreams. If a decision is good for students and will improve learning, what are you waiting for? If you had no fear, what would you do?

7. In any situation, how will the best people respond to this decision? 



There will almost always be critics of any significant or meaningful decision. We cannot please everyone. What’s right is not always popular and what’s popular is not always right. But in any situation, we should consider what the best people will think. If my very best teachers will not support a decision, then perhaps I need to consider why I feel this is the best decision in the first place. If the best teachers are unable to support a decision, then maybe I need to go back to #4. What exactly do I hope to achieve if even the best people in the building are not on board? Conversely, how often do we delay or lower our expectations because of the worst people in the building (students or teachers)? We shouldn’t aim lower or expect less because a few people seem to find a problem for every solution. If the best people are supportive, then even in the face of some criticism, a school can successfully move forward.



Question: What other questions would you include to guide effective leadership decisions? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



This is an update from a previous post published here in April 2014. 

Read More 7 Questions To Guide Decisions Of School Leaders

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” -Stephen Covey



Making good decisions is important for all us. Whether we are working with students, with parents, or even with colleagues, our decisions ultimately define our success. And the key to better decisions is better thinking. We must never make a key decision in haste. Instead, we should consider the problem from everyone’s perspective, collect advice, and ask ourselves the questions that will help us make the wise choice.



Our decisions can have a big impact on the school, learning, and ultimately our students. So it’s very important to make the best decision possible. Of course, I often make decisions and then come to realize later that with different information or a different perspective, I might have acted differently in the situation. When we make decisions we are doing the best we can with the information we have at the time.

That’s why it’s so important to ask tough questions to make sure the decision is the best one possible with the available knowledge. I want to think through my decisions and test my thinking with questions that help me clarify my values and ensure that I’m acting in a way that is congruent with my beliefs. I want my actions to line up with what I believe and what I profess to others.



These seven questions have helped me make better decisions. I’m sure there are others you could add to the list as well, but these are the ones that I keep going back to.

1. How can I help you? 



This first question is the essence of servant leadership, the leadership approach that recognizes leadership is service and turns the old paradigm of leadership on its ear. Leadership is not about power over others, or being in charge. Instead, it is about helping followers be successful. It’s about helping others reach their goals. Robert Greenleaf coined the term servant leadership, and he described it as a type of leadership that strives to help followers be healthier, wiser, freer, and better able to be leaders themselves. Leadership does not just create followers who are dependent on the leader, but it creates new leaders who are able to extend their influence and become change agents.

So as I make decisions, I must always remember this question, “How can I help you?” This question begins with empathy, the ability to see things from another person’s viewpoint in a caring way. Sometimes I need to speak the words aloud and offer to help. Other times my actions and attitudes may demonstrate this mindset even if the words go unspoken. But my goal as a leader must always be to help those around me be the best they can be. If someone in my school needs anything I can help provide to be successful, my job as a leader is to try to move mountains to get it done.



“The secret to success is good leadership. And good leadership is about making the lives of your team members better.” -Tony Dungy.

2. Is this good enough for my own child? Would I want this for my own child? 



As a parent I will do just about anything to support the success of one of my kids. I want them to have the best opportunities possible. I want them to have the best teachers, and I want them to have experiences in school that cultivate a love of learning and lead them to find who they are as people and as learners.

As I consider situations in my school against this high standard, there are times when I realize we’re not quite there yet. There are things that need to improve to best meet the needs of students. I guess there will always be areas to improve, but I don’t find this discouraging. Instead, I find it exciting to know that we can create better opportunities and continue to grow so that every student finds optimal success.

I will share that this question has helped me to find clarity on tough decisions in the past. When there are times the task may seem too big or the obstacles insurmountable, asking this question has helped me stay focused. I’ve also used it with others in my school to help frame a situation on a personal level. Parents don’t want excuses about why something can’t be done, they want heroic action that overcomes any hindrances and ensures that their student is receiving the best.

3. Will this decision preserve or attack the dignity of a child? 



Our words are very powerful and can do great good or great harm. By considering this question, it helps me focus on the humanity of a child in each situation. We must always strive to build up and not tear down. We must treat others with dignity and respect. As Todd Whitaker writes, great teachers and principals treat every student like they are good. We must presume positive intentions and come alongside students to help them succeed. 



There is never a place in a positive school for cutting sarcasm, public humiliation, or harsh treatment of a student. Even the best teacher will occasionally make a mistake in how they treat a student, but we should work quickly to restore any break in the relationship. When everyone in a school makes decisions that consistently preserve dignity and respect, the culture will be one of mutual cooperation and shared success. I explored this topic in greater depth in a previous post.

4. As I make this decision, what am I ultimately hoping to achieve? 



Part of effective decision-making is the ability understand how decisions are going to impact the goals of the individual or organization. I may be justified and have good reasoning for a decision, but if it is going to ultimately hinder the mission of our team, maybe I need to reconsider my decision. There is great finesse and wisdom in knowing how to help others be successful. Sometimes it means overlooking things that might be personal pet-peeves of the leader.

As we make decisions, we should always consider the purpose of the decision and if a particular action will lead to the purpose being accomplished. We should also consider if the decision will do any harm beyond the main purpose. Many schools have implemented policies to try to fix a specific problem, but have unwittingly harmed culture or created distrust. You must consider if the purpose is large enough or is there a higher purpose that might be jeopardized in this decision? Effective leaders see the big-picture.



5. How does this decision impact learning in our school? 



Some decisions or situations may not affect learning greatly or at all. If this is the case, why make these decisions important in your school? We spent too long trying to solve the issue of whether students should be allowed to wear hats in our building or not. Ultimately, most everyone agreed it really didn’t affect learning so why make an issue of it. Other decisions, however, greatly impact learning. We need to have tough discussions about our schedule, course offerings, assignments, and grading. Are we making decisions based on what’s best for learning or what’s convenient for adults?



I would add one other part to this question. Does the decision have the potential to transform learning in this classroom or school? I think we spend too much time trying to incrementally improve the same stuff we’ve always been doing. We should all be thinking about how we can do things that could be a complete game-changer for our students. We need to think big!

6. If you had no fear, what would you do? 



Sometimes change can be frightening even if we truly believe change is necessary. Fear causes us to hesitate, to think small, and to avoid difficult conversations. We are all governed by fear to one degree or another, but nothing great was ever accomplished without risk and a possibility of failure. We must practice taking risks in small ways and build confidence in our risk-taking to reach for our really big dreams. If a decision is good for students and will improve learning, what are you waiting for? If you had no fear, what would you do?

7. In any situation, how will the best people respond to this decision? 



There will almost always be critics of any significant or meaningful decision. We cannot please everyone. What’s right is not always popular and what’s popular is not always right. But in any situation, we should consider what the best people will think. If my very best teachers will not support a decision, then perhaps I need to consider why I feel this is the best decision in the first place. If the best teachers are unable to support a decision, then maybe I need to go back to #4. What exactly do I hope to achieve if even the best people in the building are not on board? Conversely, how often do we delay or lower our expectations because of the worst people in the building (students or teachers)? We shouldn’t aim lower or expect less because a few people seem to find a problem for every solution. If the best people are supportive, then even in the face of some criticism, a school can successfully move forward.



Question: What other questions would you include to guide effective leadership decisions? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.



This is an update from a previous post published here in April 2014. 

Read More 7 Questions To Guide Decisions Of School Leaders


I was honored to recently be a guest on John Linney’s outstanding podcast, Edspiration. John shares great ideas and does a fantastic job hosting. He has developed a really interesting format for his shows. I’ve really enjoyed listening to several of his previous podcasts. 





During my interview, we discussed adapting to change, possibility thinking, and leading from where you are, and a few other ideas. I would invite you to listen to the full episode if you get a chance. And be sure to subscribe to the Edspiration podcast in iTunes or through your favorite podcast app. I like to use Stitcher.



Alternatively, you can visit the web home of Edspiration at schoolclimateinstitute.org. Below is a rundown of a few of the key ideas we discussed, and an embedded audio player for your listening convenience.








“The secret to success is leadership, and leadership is about making the lives of your team members better.” -Tony Dungy



1. Education has been trying to improve on a system that has been fundamentally the same for 50+ years. How can we think about completely new ways to think about education?



2. Everyone can lead. We need leaders from every corner of the school. A title doesn’t make you a leader. A willingness to serve others and to take risks are excellent leadership qualities.



3. If the rate of change in school lags too far behind how things are changing in the world, schooling will become increasingly irrelevant.



4. Possibility thinking goes beyond implementing what we already know. We need to dream big and believe there is probably a better way to do most everything.



5. Innovation starts with better thinking. Innovation is spread through leadership.



6. Risk taking is dependent on the level of trust and safety in the school culture.



7. Make learning personal for teachers. How does our professional learning have potential to improve student learning?



8. How are you connecting with other educators? Build your PLN.



9. If your school is going to be successful, it’s because of strong teacher leadership.

Question: How do you lead from where you are? How do you exercise your innovation muscles? Leave a comment below or share on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear from you!



      

Read More Leading From Where You Are


I was honored to recently be a guest on John Linney’s outstanding podcast, Edspiration. John shares great ideas and does a fantastic job hosting. He has developed a really interesting format for his shows. I’ve really enjoyed listening to several of his previous podcasts. 





During my interview, we discussed adapting to change, possibility thinking, and leading from where you are, and a few other ideas. I would invite you to listen to the full episode if you get a chance. And be sure to subscribe to the Edspiration podcast in iTunes or through your favorite podcast app. I like to use Stitcher.



Alternatively, you can visit the web home of Edspiration at schoolclimateinstitute.org. Below is a rundown of a few of the key ideas we discussed, and an embedded audio player for your listening convenience.








“The secret to success is leadership, and leadership is about making the lives of your team members better.” -Tony Dungy



1. Education has been trying to improve on a system that has been fundamentally the same for 50+ years. How can we think about completely new ways to think about education?



2. Everyone can lead. We need leaders from every corner of the school. A title doesn’t make you a leader. A willingness to serve others and to take risks are excellent leadership qualities.



3. If the rate of change in school lags too far behind how things are changing in the world, schooling will become increasingly irrelevant.



4. Possibility thinking goes beyond implementing what we already know. We need to dream big and believe there is probably a better way to do most everything.



5. Innovation starts with better thinking. Innovation is spread through leadership.



6. Risk taking is dependent on the level of trust and safety in the school culture.



7. Make learning personal for teachers. How does our professional learning have potential to improve student learning?



8. How are you connecting with other educators? Build your PLN.



9. If your school is going to be successful, it’s because of strong teacher leadership.

Question: How do you lead from where you are? How do you exercise your innovation muscles? Leave a comment below or share on Facebook or Twitter. I want to hear from you!



      

Read More Leading From Where You Are

As a principal, I realize the best chance of sustainable, meaningful change only happens in our school with strong teacher leadership. Programs come and go. So do principals. But teachers are consistently in a position to create change and positively impact their classrooms and the entire school. 



We often think of teacher effectiveness as what happens with classroom instruction. And that is one very important part of how teachers lead and exert influence. But there are many other ways teachers can contribute to positive change.








Teacher leadership is not limited to a title or role, such as department head, instructional coach, etc. While it is great to have teachers in formal teacher-leader positions, it’s important to recognize that leadership is more about actions than defined roles and responsibilities. 










Leadership, in essence, is concerned with making the lives of your team members better and doing what is best for them in the long run. Here are 11 ways teacher leadership can drive change in your school.




1. If we want to empower students, we need to empower teachers. Students need greater voice and choice, so do teachers. Teachers are more likely to offer student-driven learning experiences if they have the same opportunities to drive their own experience.


2. Teachers understand the challenges and the opportunities. Too many ideas for education have been imposed from outside sources, sometimes originating from bureaucrats with little knowledge of a classroom. Teacher leaders know first-hand the complexities of learning, and how to develop solutions that work.



3. Teachers influence other teachers. When teachers take risks, it encourages others to take risks too. Change can be difficult, but with support from other teachers, it’s much easier.








4. Solutions developed by teachers are more likely to succeed. Why? Because if we believe in something, we will find a way to make it successful. Whether it is the best idea or not might not even matter. We’ll make it successful because we believe it is the best idea. 



5. The closer the goals are to the classroom the better. We get maximum results when students and teachers are developing goals together. 








6. Teacher leadership builds teamwork, trust, and shared ownership. When teachers lead, it creates greater interdependence. Team members play to their strengths and contribute in ways that make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.



7. Teachers are professionals and deserve to make professional decisions. Too many schools have a culture of permission, where teachers feel they must clear decisions they believe will be best for students. We need a culture of intention, not a culture of permission.



8. Leadership provides opportunities to grow. We cannot effectively explore our talents or potential without opportunities to lead. Using our talents to serve others is leadership. If we hope to create positive change, we have to be willing to grow and have the courage to challenge our own assumptions. We aren’t the school we used to be, but we’re not the school we want to be. 



9. Teacher leaders are culture builders. Nothing is more important in our schools than developing a strong culture. When teachers see themselves as leaders, they recognize how their voices matter to help set the tone for a caring, productive, learning-focused culture. Changing culture isn’t always easy to quantify, but it’s one of the most important things we can do. Every school should strive for a stronger culture.

10. Teacher leaders change lives. I’m constantly amazed at the ways teachers go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of students and colleagues. Every time I see this type of commitment, I see leadership in action. Change happens in a school one person at a time.



Question: What are ways teacher leaders drive change in your school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More 10 Ways Teacher Leadership Drives Change

As a principal, I realize the best chance of sustainable, meaningful change only happens in our school with strong teacher leadership. Programs come and go. So do principals. But teachers are consistently in a position to create change and positively impact their classrooms and the entire school. 



We often think of teacher effectiveness as what happens with classroom instruction. And that is one very important part of how teachers lead and exert influence. But there are many other ways teachers can contribute to positive change.








Teacher leadership is not limited to a title or role, such as department head, instructional coach, etc. While it is great to have teachers in formal teacher-leader positions, it’s important to recognize that leadership is more about actions than defined roles and responsibilities. 










Leadership, in essence, is concerned with making the lives of your team members better and doing what is best for them in the long run. Here are 11 ways teacher leadership can drive change in your school.




1. If we want to empower students, we need to empower teachers. Students need greater voice and choice, so do teachers. Teachers are more likely to offer student-driven learning experiences if they have the same opportunities to drive their own experience.


2. Teachers understand the challenges and the opportunities. Too many ideas for education have been imposed from outside sources, sometimes originating from bureaucrats with little knowledge of a classroom. Teacher leaders know first-hand the complexities of learning, and how to develop solutions that work.



3. Teachers influence other teachers. When teachers take risks, it encourages others to take risks too. Change can be difficult, but with support from other teachers, it’s much easier.








4. Solutions developed by teachers are more likely to succeed. Why? Because if we believe in something, we will find a way to make it successful. Whether it is the best idea or not might not even matter. We’ll make it successful because we believe it is the best idea. 



5. The closer the goals are to the classroom the better. We get maximum results when students and teachers are developing goals together. 








6. Teacher leadership builds teamwork, trust, and shared ownership. When teachers lead, it creates greater interdependence. Team members play to their strengths and contribute in ways that make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.



7. Teachers are professionals and deserve to make professional decisions. Too many schools have a culture of permission, where teachers feel they must clear decisions they believe will be best for students. We need a culture of intention, not a culture of permission.



8. Leadership provides opportunities to grow. We cannot effectively explore our talents or potential without opportunities to lead. Using our talents to serve others is leadership. If we hope to create positive change, we have to be willing to grow and have the courage to challenge our own assumptions. We aren’t the school we used to be, but we’re not the school we want to be. 



9. Teacher leaders are culture builders. Nothing is more important in our schools than developing a strong culture. When teachers see themselves as leaders, they recognize how their voices matter to help set the tone for a caring, productive, learning-focused culture. Changing culture isn’t always easy to quantify, but it’s one of the most important things we can do. Every school should strive for a stronger culture.

10. Teacher leaders change lives. I’m constantly amazed at the ways teachers go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of students and colleagues. Every time I see this type of commitment, I see leadership in action. Change happens in a school one person at a time.



Question: What are ways teacher leaders drive change in your school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

      

Read More 10 Ways Teacher Leadership Drives Change





Brent Catlett (@catlett1) and Brad MacLaughlin (@IsdBrad) led a great session at #edcamplibertyWhat Great Leaders Do Differently in 2016. I really enjoyed the discussion. It was everything EdCamp should be. There was enthusiastic participation from the room. Lots of great ideas were shared. 



In fact, several ideas were actually applauded. How cool is it that educators are gathering on a Saturday morning to discuss leadership and cheer each other on? The session gave me plenty of inspiration for this post.



So what do great leaders do differently in 2016?



1. They lead themselves first. Instead of focusing on managing others, they lead by example and model the qualities they would like to see in others.

If I am going lead anyone, I have to lead myself first via @IsdBrad #edcampliberty

— Brent Catlett (@catlett1) March 12, 2016



2. Great leaders take risks. They view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Great leaders make others feel safe to try something new. They understand setbacks.



3. They come from every corner of the school (students, teachers, support staff, etc.not just admin). Leadership is more about disposition than position. Great leaders help develop new leaders and share leadership roles with others.

As a principal, I realize the best chance of sustainable, meaningful change only happens with strong teacher leadership. #edcampliberty

— David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) March 12, 2016



4. Great leaders are flexible. They see problems as opportunities. They are comfortable with ambiguity.



5. They are present. The entire school is their office. Traditional leaders might manage from behind a desk, but 2016 leaders can work from anywhere.

School leaders need to be visible and available for both teachers and students. #edcampliberty

— Scott Miller (@Miller_BHS) March 12, 2016



6. Great leaders are instructional leaders. They are out of the office for a reasonto be supportive of learning.



7. They are authentic. They admit mistakes. They are self-aware. They know their strengths and weaknesses. 



8. Great leaders are digital leaders. They recognize what it takes to succeed in a digital world. They are modeling the use of digital tools.



9. They are quick to give credit. And even quicker to shoulder blame.




Great leaders share the credit and shoulder the blame. Tweet this image.



10. Great leaders know their stuff. They are lead learners. They remain curious and are always seeking to learn.



11. They listen. And strive to understand. They lead with empathy. They lead with heart.

Leaders learning alongside teachers impacts change in school systems! It is about listening and the conversation! @catlett1 #edcampliberty

— Tracey Kracht (@TraceyKracht) March 12, 2016



12. Great leaders help others reach their goals. They don’t impose their own goals or organizational goals. They start with helping individuals grow.



13. They generate enthusiasm. They have a great attitude, have great energy, and inspire others to be stronger and more enthusiastic too.



A common theme seemed to be that schools should be ‘flat’ organizations instead of hierarchies. And leaders should be working alongside other team members, in classrooms and hallways, and not separate from them. We need more great leaders for 2016 and beyond. Judging by the group at #edcampliberty this shouldn’t be a problem!



Question: What are your thoughts on great leaders for 2016? What do they do differently? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.








      

Read More What Great Leaders Do Differently 2016





Brent Catlett (@catlett1) and Brad MacLaughlin (@IsdBrad) led a great session at #edcamplibertyWhat Great Leaders Do Differently in 2016. I really enjoyed the discussion. It was everything EdCamp should be. There was enthusiastic participation from the room. Lots of great ideas were shared. 



In fact, several ideas were actually applauded. How cool is it that educators are gathering on a Saturday morning to discuss leadership and cheer each other on? The session gave me plenty of inspiration for this post.



So what do great leaders do differently in 2016?



1. They lead themselves first. Instead of focusing on managing others, they lead by example and model the qualities they would like to see in others.

If I am going lead anyone, I have to lead myself first via @IsdBrad #edcampliberty

— Brent Catlett (@catlett1) March 12, 2016



2. Great leaders take risks. They view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. Great leaders make others feel safe to try something new. They understand setbacks.



3. They come from every corner of the school (students, teachers, support staff, etc.not just admin). Leadership is more about disposition than position. Great leaders help develop new leaders and share leadership roles with others.

As a principal, I realize the best chance of sustainable, meaningful change only happens with strong teacher leadership. #edcampliberty

— David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) March 12, 2016



4. Great leaders are flexible. They see problems as opportunities. They are comfortable with ambiguity.



5. They are present. The entire school is their office. Traditional leaders might manage from behind a desk, but 2016 leaders can work from anywhere.

School leaders need to be visible and available for both teachers and students. #edcampliberty

— Scott Miller (@Miller_BHS) March 12, 2016



6. Great leaders are instructional leaders. They are out of the office for a reasonto be supportive of learning.



7. They are authentic. They admit mistakes. They are self-aware. They know their strengths and weaknesses. 



8. Great leaders are digital leaders. They recognize what it takes to succeed in a digital world. They are modeling the use of digital tools.



9. They are quick to give credit. And even quicker to shoulder blame.




Great leaders share the credit and shoulder the blame. Tweet this image.



10. Great leaders know their stuff. They are lead learners. They remain curious and are always seeking to learn.



11. They listen. And strive to understand. They lead with empathy. They lead with heart.

Leaders learning alongside teachers impacts change in school systems! It is about listening and the conversation! @catlett1 #edcampliberty

— Tracey Kracht (@TraceyKracht) March 12, 2016



12. Great leaders help others reach their goals. They don’t impose their own goals or organizational goals. They start with helping individuals grow.



13. They generate enthusiasm. They have a great attitude, have great energy, and inspire others to be stronger and more enthusiastic too.



A common theme seemed to be that schools should be ‘flat’ organizations instead of hierarchies. And leaders should be working alongside other team members, in classrooms and hallways, and not separate from them. We need more great leaders for 2016 and beyond. Judging by the group at #edcampliberty this shouldn’t be a problem!



Question: What are your thoughts on great leaders for 2016? What do they do differently? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.








      

Read More What Great Leaders Do Differently 2016

Effective leadership is about people- always. Without the faith of your followers, a leader you are not… I can’t think of a simpler concept in leadership, or one that would be considered more practical and authentic. In the measured contexts of our everyday lives as leaders, all teachers, whether they like it or not, are called upon to serve; primarily our students, but also each other, our student’s parents and the learning community we are an integral part of. In humbly putting the needs of others ahead of our own as leaders, we honor them…

Read More Effective Leadership- Got Humility?