I’ve been reflecting a great deal lately about what I’ve learned (and continue to learn) about leadership and leading. I would like to share a few of these reflections here. During my nearly 8 years as a vice-principal (with two 6-month maternity leaves thrown in there), a number of leadership lessons stick out for me (if you click on most of the bolded titles, you will be brought to a more in-depth post on that topic).
1. Go slow to go far. We will move forward faster, with more sustainable change, if we go forward slowly than we would if we moved forward quickly without the input of those we work with.
2. Relationships first. We truly can not move forward without first developing relationships with those we work with – students, teachers, education assistants, or parents. It is important to develop trust with everyone – without trust, people will not feel comfortable to take risks in their own learning which is what is needed to move forward and make change.
3. Parents are our students first and most important teachers. They know their children better than we ever will. It is imperative that we realize this. Parents are also doing their best with their children, even if sometimes it may not seem like it. We are all after the same thing – for students to be the best they can be – to prepare our students/children for their future. We must keep student learning at the centre of all we do.
4. Everyone has a story. All people (teachers, parents, students, etc…) are doing their best with what they have at any given time.
5. Kids want to do well. Our students do not want to be labelled as “bad”. They really don’t. They want to do well and are trying their best to deal with the events of their life in the best way they can. We need to believe in them and work with them to develop self-regulation and strategies for dealing with situations. They want to do well. We just need to help them along the way.
6. Inspired by all. Leaders and teachers who are learning new things are very much like our students who are learning new things – some ready to go and excited and others may be very apprehensive. Important to value all. It is important to realize that while it may come “easily” to some, it will be quite difficult for others. We must value everyone and their efforts.
7. Contain my excitement. Curb the enthusiasm. As an administrator, it is very important to read your audience and take their thoughts and feelings into consideration. You need to remember that perception is key.
8. We are all different. No two people are the same and no two situations will likely be able to be addressed in the same manner.
9. Life long learner. The more I learn, the more I realize what I don’t know, and the more I realize I have so much to learn.
10. Be true to yourself. I will always be true to myself, my feelings, my thoughts, my values and my beliefs. As an administrator, you are pushed and pulled in many directions. It is important to always keep what’s important at the forefront – the kids. Sadly, this is a position that often causes the most grief from others.
11. There are some things you have no control over. At times, it is very difficult because there are things that, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you care, no matter how dedicated you are, you just don’t have control over things that happen. As frustrating and challenging it is, at times like this, you must try to keep your focus and keep on keeping on – making a positive difference in the lives of kids.
I feel truly fortunate to be able to have influence on, and be influenced by, so many people who care about kids and make a tremendous positive impact on kids every day. These are some of the lessons I have learned over the years.
What lessons have you learned?
Are there any lessons with which you struggle?