Sunday, March 16, 2014

Listen. Laugh. Lead.

(photo courtesy of onelifesuccess.net)

As educators we will each have our share of successes and failures in the work we do. In working with my staff I continue to reflect on my role as the building leader. Below are a few take-aways.

This list is by no means is the "end all, be all". It's a start, my start, to what assists me in being the best I can in my role.

See if you agree.

1. Listen - There is always a time to give direction and be the voice of the room but take a breath and hear what is happening around you. Whether from your students or your colleagues everyone has something to share when it comes to the craft of teaching and learning. Tune-in. It could be exactly what was needed to be said. Make sure you can hear it.

2. Be Visible - Nobody likes a leader that leads from behind an office door. Get in the trenches, validate a teachers work and make sure your students see you as an invested part of their learning. Don't become the "figure head" and don't be the principal they don't talk about 10 years removed.

3. Contribute - Now that you are out and in the trenches, don't be passive. Say something, anything, that would enhance the experience in learning. You don't want to interrupt the teacher at the pivotal instructional moment in their lesson, but make sure you interact as you are completing a walkthrough. This is a great chance to get feedback from students on their learning.

4. Model - "Practice what you preach" and your teachers will follow. If you want teachers to dabble more with instructional technology then your next staff meeting better have the same when you are the one in front of the class. If you want teachers to use the Gradual Release Model in their teaching, same goes for professional development days. 

5. Be Transparent - Next time a mistake is made, own it. Show your faults, expose your errors and acknowledge when a direction needs to change course from a lesson than perfect decision. Smoke and mirrors will destroy the climate. Be transparent and teachers will be more willing to try, and maybe fail, and try again.

6. Mourn - Teachers are asked to change what they teach and how they teach often. Give them time to say goodbye and bury past practice while you work with them to incorporate new best practice. 

7. Laugh - Everyone needs a good chuckle to get through the day. As long as it is not at your expense, make sure to offer up a moment (often) in which you are reminded to not take the work too seriously. Work hard, play hard as they say. This includes a good old fashioned belly laugh to keep the spirit going. 

8. Celebrate - Don't save the party until the last day of school! Too often we think that the last day is the culmination of a successful year. Truth is, there is a celebration every day and we should celebrate each time a child discovers their greatness! Find it, celebrate it!

Thought of more?  Add them to the comments section below. 

And in the end, assuming you can embed these into our work, you will be a leader that truly knows how to lead.