Sunday, April 29, 2018

Do We Explicitly Lead Each Other Forward

My colleagues lead me forward all the time. They bring tremendous skill, good attitude, vision, knowledge, and a will for excellence to our team. I learn by working with them and observing their excellent teaching and learning regularly. They help me to strengthen my weak areas and overcome my challenges. I feel so fortunate to work with these teacher-leaders every day.

I hope that I can lead as an educator too. I hope that I can bring my strengths to help lead my colleagues as well. This co-leadership is the kind of distributive leadership that I believe will enrich and develop schools in ways that matter.

Opposite of this co-leadership model is a model of rights or wrongs--a model that sees people as "good" or "not so good," and a model that elevates some while demeaning others. I believe that we all have value in an organization, and rather than focusing on some as gifted and others as without gifts or talents, we should look for each others' strengths and help one another with our weaknesses in an effort to achieve common goals, vision, and priorities.

What's important with a co-leadership model is that we focus on these questions with commitment:
  • What are our common goals, priorities, and vision?
  • How are we currently achieving those goals, and what more can we do?
  • What do each of us bring to these goals and this work? 
  • What more can each of us bring?
  • Where are our individual and collective challenges in this regard?
As I think about this with regard to my own teaching/learning teams, I have the following thoughts:
  • At the start of the school year we have to make sure that we have the kind of schedule and supports we need to do the job well.
  • We need to continue to make good time at the start of the year to know the students and families we are working with. 
  • We need to expect fidelity to service schedules and speak up if that does not occur since students deserve their services, and there needs to be fidelity to those service delivery schedules.
  • We need to work more strategically as an entire team looking deeply at where we are making good strides and where we can do better. We can continue to better our processes for this work. 
  • We need to be aware of the system-wide and school-wide goals and make our goals inline wth those.
  • We need to recognize each others' strengths and challenges, and use that knowledge to grow each other and be a successful team. For example I am thinking of an area where I am not as strong as my colleagues, and when it comes to that area, I need to rely on them more--they are really good at that, and I'm not so good at that. In other words we have to maximize each others' strengths and mitigate each others' challenges.
  • We have to help each other develop in ways that matter. To do this we need to be aware of each others' hopes for the future, and work to help each other achieve the teaching/learning goals we have.
Optimal organizations focus more on development than judgement. They see all members of the organization as people on a journey to do good work and make a significant impact. Rather than chastise, demean, tease, or ridicule, people in effective organizations work together with honesty, compassion, and empathy to forward the entire organization in important, valuable ways. In these organizations every member is both a leader and a follower, and they take both these roles very seriously.