Sometimes it's important to be the good soldier--the individual who takes the orders seriously and attends to the details of the directions with care.
The good soldier is not one who questions regularly or leads, but instead he/she is the one who follows with care. He/she can be depended on to carry out the duties expected.
While I am generally in favor of co-leadership models where all people both lead and follow one another with apt collaboration, I also realize that there are times when it's best to be the good soldier.
This is mainly true during times of implementation--in the best of circumstances the plans have been well made, and the implementation requires everyone's attention to detail. It's also good to be the good soldier when schedules, resources, and time are stretched and what's most important is to get the task done and to do it well.
The end-of-the-school-year is a "good soldier" time as it's not the best time for new ideas or efforts since people are tired, schedules are full, and there is a lot to carry-out and complete to bring a year full circle. There's also greater chance of error at the end of the year due to the constraints of the multiple events, celebrations, and transitions that happen at this time of year.
What does being the good soldier mean in an elementary school?
It means completing the needed paperwork: report cards, field trip forms, grant orders, attendance, lunch count, and more.
It means being prompt and attuned to supervisory duties.
It means carrying out the end-year curriculum efforts with a positive, student-centered, sensitive attitude.
It means cleaning up the classroom and beginning to prepare for the big summer clean-up.
It means leaving deeper, more creative efforts for summer study when there's good energy, open minds, and less demands.
It means listening more than talking and acting more than suggesting.
Every organization needs good soldiers, however if that's all people are expected to be, organizations lose out on the capacity possible when distributive leadership and idea systems are put into place.
To expect people to only follow and not contribute is to hinder potential and promise. With that said though, there are times when following is preferred to leading. Onward.