Thank you, Bill Oldread (Assistant Director-EARCOS)! Bill maintains the EARCOS E-Connect Blog and recently highlighted a Marshall Memo review of a Robert Weintraub article on leadership.
Convoluted connections? Sure, but that’s how the good word gets out… that’s Bloggin’!
What can we learn from Weintraub’s extensive leadership experience?
- Promote common goals and ‘voice’ for adults involved in supporting kids – gives the kids a clear message with clear expectations. Consistent communicator/Active.
- Get in the habit of setting aside a daily time to respond to email and phone calls – prompt responses, even if it’s just to say you will get back to someone, indicate their messages (and they) are important. Caring.
- The old leadership adage… LBWA (Leading By Walking Around) – visibility and interaction are important to show that you care more about the school community than your office. Caring/Connected.
- Get back into the classroom AS A TEACHER – what better way to keep your fingers on the pulse of what’s going on with teachers and students? Connected.
- “Be happy” – your mood affects others… how would you like others to feel? Caring.
- Youth are energetic… mirror that energy – you fit in better and help others stay energized. Connected/Active.
- Notice the kids – if students feel they’re anonymous to you guess how you will be to them? Caring/Connected.
- Give your full attention when interacting with others – if you let interruptions distract you, how valued does the one asking for your attention feel? Caring.
- Leadership requires unambiguous communication – we all want to know ‘what’ and ‘why’. Consistent communicator.
- Be a model of what you expect re: work – everyone respects hard workers! Active.
- (To borrow a phrase from Jim Collins) Get the right people on the bus – in a school, everyone should love kids and support learning. Consistent communicator/Active.
- Support intellectual pursuit – inspire others think, reflect, ponder. Consistent communicator/Reflective.
- Take risks… when you need to – guide change carefully and thoughtfully. Active/Reflective.
- No one is perfect – remember that about yourself and others. Caring/Reflective.
- We’re all part of the same family – nurture others beyond ‘the job’. Caring/Connected.
Ok! So… I put my own spin on these ‘lessons on leadership’. For me, those points boil down to the qualities of a good leader. I know I didn’t hit all the traits of a good leader but if we regularly ask ourselves if we are being: consistent communicators; active; caring; connected; and, reflective (and we strive to be those 5 things) we’re well on our way to good leadership.
What other qualities do you feel are important for good leaders to have?
In my previous post I touched on the concept, introduced to our faculty by Jennifer Sparrow during an EARCOS Weekend Workshop, of TEA… Targets, Evidence, Action(s). It’s a great way to organize thinking on what we do as a school. In many respects, it’s a simplified version of creating a results-oriented school advocated by Mike Schmoker, Rick & Becky DuFour, and others. In fact, it simplifies the SMART Goals process originally established by Jan O’Neill and Ann Conzemius.
From Jennifer Sparrow EARCOS Weekend Workshop, Sept. 3-4, 2011
Our job is to focus on student learning and how to improve it. It’s just common sense that we first figure out what we want our students to learn (learning objectives/Performance Standards); gather evidence that indicates how well they are ‘getting it’; and develop a plan of action to ensure they are supported and able to reach those intended learning goals. A simple, direct approach to helping all learners meet their goals. Thanks again, Jennifer Sparrow! Cuppa TEA?
In the interest of educating myself, further, I have enrolled in an International School Leadership program offered by Washington State University and the University of San Francisco, through EARCOS. It’s a fascinating exercise in balancing an International Schools perspective (that all of the cohort come with and 1 of the instructors comes with) with a Public School perspective. Good ideas are good ideas, right?
Unfortunately (for international school educators), when it comes to best practices and research-based informed decision-making, most of our data comes from studies done in the US public school environment. Why is that unfortunate? Only because there are some conditions that are far more prevalent in public schools that are minor or non-existent in international schools and that international schools cater to a generally higher socio-economic group than public schools usually have.
That said, allow me to share some potentially useful resources. The Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning has some free resources that are useful for those in educational leadership positions. Another website to mine with a wealth of information on topics that range from UbD, Differentiation and English Language Learning to Educational Leadership, 21st Century Skills development, School Culture/Climate and more is the ASCD . Both offer online courses and other professional development opportunities. Another great resource for useful articles is the National Staff Development Council… check out their articles on building a collaborative culture!
So, what is particulary true for international schools but not so true for public schools? I’m interested to hear YOUR perspective. For example, parent involvement… it seems to me that in public schools we work real hard trying to GET parents involved at different levels and in international schools, the challenge is not GETTING the parents involved it’s making sure there are strong, healthy structures in place to ensure all stakeholders are on the same page and moving forward with a shared vision (also important for public schools but there seem to be more public schools that are at step 1 whereas most international schools appear to further along… agree?).
Feedback is most welcome!