“Teaching is Traumatic” a hat tip to Summer Howarth and Steve Collis for the critical thought leadership in this area. As an educational leader I want to surround myself with professionals who have what Summer described as a “physiological reaction” to some of our more challenging issues, without it they are just robots. I read blog posts like this: “Today I Sucked” with hope for the future of education. I get to listen every day to the passion of educators around me at school talking about their trauma. Those that think educational leadership is a hashtag on twitter marginalise the realities of education like King Henry “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more” using his troop’s corpses to fill the breach of Harfleur. The real educational leadership challenge is how do we support our teams and colleagues through these moments to improve outcomes for all students and build their capacity as educational professionals? Most importantly how do we do this within the realities of our context? We can click ‘dislike’ all we want, but we operate in a world of testing, reporting and accountability.
Sorry I wish I had a list of cool dot points to start you thinking, but sometimes I too, am lost…
Simply take a look at the teams you lead and the teams you are a member off, unless you live in Shangri-La, you’ll quickly see we lead and are led in less than perfect contexts. As leaders we can choose (yes it is a choice, most just choose not to see the alternative option) to lead from the positive or lead from the negative.
Why is it so hard to lead from the positive and why do so many choose to lead from the negative?
In the new world of big brands, badges of self-proclaimed awesomeness and virtual territorialism have we forgotten the hat tip?
I’ve lost count of how many blogs, web pages and self promoters who have taken my ideas and sold them as their own (the ones who have “innovation” in their name just make me chuckle), plagiarism is a totally different issue of professionalism. But in the last 18 months I’ve noticed an increase in educators referring to “someone I work with” in their blog or espousing an idea that blind Freddy’s best mate knows wasn’t theirs on social media channels. So maybe next time you share an idea that others contributed too (no matter how small), why not give ‘em a hat tip!
Is it really that hard…
As a educational leader I find myself in a variety of contexts and engaging with a variety of personalities. To me this is a post of “obvious” but from a range of experiences in the last few weeks, maybe what is obvious to me, is not obvious too all? How we behave (proactively and reactively) defines how others view and engage with us but also define the culturally acceptable behaviours those around us have for each other.
Reactive modelling as mocked in the video is about being self-aware, we all have “moments” it just part of being human. It’s how we treat those around us during the moments and our daily routines that define our team culture. What real leadership is about, is proactive modelling through your daily routine. Your day to day behaviour and engagement with others will have a bigger impact on your team/school than any professional learning you ever deliver.
How you behave is what others expect from you, behave like a clown and expect to be treated like a clown. Is it really this hard?
Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote represent 2 very common educational leadership archetypes, which are you?
There are not only leadership lessons to be learnt from Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote but also team capacity building lessons. My aim this year is to build a team of Road Runners, that way no matter how many Wile E. Coyote we meet, we are ready to keep striving for the higher purpose of awesome student learning.
The greatest barrier to change in education is the fear of admitting we’re not perfect. Every time we claim awesomeness, when deep down we know we’re not we take another step away from perfection. As long as we claim we’re perfect, we never will be. So today I proudly say:
There I said it, now have you got the guts?
Or will you just claim you’re perfect, so you never have to change because it’s so much easier than looking reality in the eye…
Yesterday I was at Australian Technology Park, Sydney’s original rail works converted to center for technology and innovation whilst maintaining historical buildings and features. What struck me was the men’s urinal placed outside against a very public wall. Walking past this historical feature I reflected on how such a physical object (in the era of the sites operation as a rail works) would be a physical manifestation of the male macho culture rail works where known for. Thinking that the culture would have tried to changed in the last years of the sites operation during the 1970/80′s, yet physical manifestations such as this would have maintained the cultural status quo, no matter how much the workplace was trying to evolve with the modern times.
This thought lead me to reflect on what are the physical manifestations of my teams culture?:
Negative physical manifestations of team culture educational leaders should be more aware off:
Those that know me, know, I like to lead from the front foot or what I call ‘change leadership’. In the last few weeks I have been in a very superficial leadership role in which I had no choice but to watch passivity as leadership failed. I watched quietly as a leader made comments like “I don’t care” when asked for direction/leadership and pulled a highly productive team together moments before a big push to success only to tell everyone to “shut the f**k up”. I tried as best as I could to ‘lead up’ and ‘lead over’ but, I too failed. I was left to use the moments to simply observe the fallout. Whilst it has been personally an extremely frustrating time for me, it has (by deficit modelling) ratified for me what I believe successful leadership looks like.
These are my four pillars of leadership:
Pillar 1: Build a future – collaborating with my team we reflect on the past and present then map a path to where we want to be.
Pillar 2: Talk it up – applying my personal energy and actively seeking communication points I purposely articulate repeatedly the future we want to build.
Pillar 3: Work with others – working across teams, enables everyone to work towards the future efficiently and models collaboration.
Pillar 4: Map the path – employing my network and networking skills I build the future beyond my team and enable them to connect with those who can support them build the future they want to have.
Leadership may have failed, but it won’t take me with it…
I love my job, every day I make a concerted effort to engage deep professional conversations with my team focusing purely our core business of learning. Sadly I speak to many educational leaders who talk about how they are always focusing on structural issues or non-core business but are desperate to effect change creating (a self-fulfilling dichotomy). So here is how I make sure that I have a best part of the day every day but more importantly that the best part of my day is also the biggest part of my day:
How to you maintain the relentless focus on student learning?