Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Teachers as Leaders: The Importance of Feedback, Modeling, and Innovation

Educators change. Educators evolve. Sometimes, we get it right. Other times, we get it wrong.

Right now, my focus is leadership.

Why leadership?

Teachers by definition are leaders. Every August, we are charged to lead a group of young minds to deeper levels of learning and achievement. We strive to reach every child in the classroom, and go above and beyond to make magic happen. This requires vision, planning, patience, and an ability to accept constant feedback (both positive and negative) from students, parents, and administrators. Over the summer break, I will study what great leaders do by researching the following....

* Feedback- Leaders must be willing to accept feedback whether positive or negative. They must look at it with an open mind knowing that everyone makes mistakes, but what actions can be taken to improve. I watched a great video from the Harvard Business Review on mistakes that leaders make, and it brought up some excellent points to consider as I lead a new group of students in August. It's essential that teachers see themselves as leaders in order to bring out the best in ourselves and our students.
* Modeling- Leaders must not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. If I want my students to treat each other with dignity and respect, then I must be the example first in how I treat my students and colleagues. Additionally, if I want my students to bring their best every day to the classroom, then I can never waiver in my lesson planning, dress, or speech. I set the tone and example every day, every hour, and every minute. By holding myself to a high standard, my students will grow to trust that I am consistent and an example that they want to follow.
I recently watched a video on this topic by Jack Welch on trust and authenticity. The video is for business, but I believe it applies to school leadership as well. As a teacher, the trust I build with my students is vital for their achievement, and my ability to teach. Teachers can't make false promises, go against their word, talk badly about students in front of their peers or other teachers, because children have the most to risk. Our students believe in us so deeply, and when we hurt them, the wounds stay for a lifetime. We must keep the teacher/student relationship strong and healthy.

*Innovators Mindset- It seems that innovation is one of those terms that elicits immediate anxiety, almost like creativity. Many people believe that creativity as well as innovation are innate gifted qualities only from God himself. I know this because I am one of those people. However, I know that is the wrong mindset. We all have the potential for creativity and innovation, we just need to think like innovators. The following is an excellent video on how to think like an innovator. It focuses on the importance of questioning, observing, networking, and experimenting. I would challenge all teachers to take some time to expand your thinking this summer along with me. It never hurts to try.


Feedback, modeling, and innovation are all important elements of great leadership. I'm looking forward to exploring these topics further throughout the summer. If any readers have suggestions or knowledge on the topic I'd love to know your thoughts. Feel free to comment.

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