Principals and Assistant Principals hear a lot about leadership. If you serve the school in one of those roles, you are identified as a leader by title. You’re also called upon to extend leadership to others, which often means teachers, a leadership team, and others who are involved with you in the administration and leadership of the school.
We’ve been looking at teacher-leaders over the past two weeks, examining what the principal and assistant-principal(s) can do to develop and support teacher-leaders. In today’s column, we toss out an idea that might make it all come together for you at your school.
The idea is simple: build more leaders by developing a leadership development program for everyone.
You might be thinking, “wait! I am having trouble trying to get a few people to do well in leadership. Why would adding on more be a good idea? ” While that argument may seem logical at first glance, consider this: what if you could establish as a norm for your school ‘leadership.‘ (replacing what norm that conflicts with it now? Followership? Indifference?)
What if your school was designed behind this premise: everyone is a teacher, everyone is a student, everyone is a leader. If you can build a culture in which teaching, learning, and leading are the foundation, you will find it much easier to have effective teacher teams. You’ll find that as personnel changes occur, you won’t be starting again at the beginning, but you’ll have people ready to take the lead.
What if you taught leadership to all of your teachers? To all of your students? To all of your staff?
What if everyone identified areas in which they wanted to lead? What if your teachers reported their evidence of leading just as frequently as they uploaded their lesson plans?
What if you developed, borrowed, or purchased the necessary resources to lead a focus on leadership at your school? Would your school be a more effective learning institution if your teachers and students saw themselves as leaders?
Right now, do you have a split among your faculty members? If so, are they split by leaders and… non-leaders?
It’s easy enough just to say that everyone is a leader and that teaching is leading and leading is teaching. Is that really enough, though? Can you develop an explicit framework and a set of strategies to truly build a school of leaders?
I’ve visited schools that have adopted a framework for studying leadership on a broad scale. (i.e., Leader in Me) In those schools, teachers, parents, and students alike speak the same language of leadership. A priority is placed on service. The school talks about vision, mission and beliefs in the context of the school on a regular basis. These schools are on the move. Leadership becomes a common language and collaboration becomes the norm.
What if everyone at your school learned more about leadership? What if they did many of the things that you have done and continue to do to be an effective leader? (reflective practice, discussing your work with fellow practitioners, focusing on root-cause problems?)
Would your school be stronger if your teachers and students studied effective communication? If everyone took time to learn techniques in interpersonal skills?
Just as we’ve had DEAR (Drop Everything and Read), what if we had DEAL (Drop Everything and Lead) when we all focused on leadership lessons, introspection and growth.
Here’s where I typically arrive while studying leadership: when you’re working on being a better leader, you are also usually simultaneously working on being a better person. If there’s even a fraction of truth to that idea, it’s worth the pursuit.
Leadership for everyone. Connecting people with their passions. Building a culture of supporting others around you.