I am excited about the opportunity to participate in an innovative program launched by George Couros (@gcouros), The School Administrators Virtual Mentorship Program (#SAVMP). The idea behind the program is “to help develop administrators to lead innovative school environments that meet the needs of students today.” Leading innovation begins with our own learning.
As a starting point for thinking about our own practices, George has asked us to reflect on our “why” — why we lead. I have to admit that when I began my career as an educator, I never envisioned myself as a leader. Early on, I saw myself as a learner and a teacher, guiding and facilitating the learning of my students. Inspired by my own teachers who saw me — as a person and a learner — I wanted to follow in their footsteps and give back the life-changing gift that they gave me.
As a teacher, the connections I made with students — getting to know their strengths, their passions, their challenges and their dreams — gave me a genuine sense of purpose and meaning. Seeing the spark in a student as they discovered new skills, talents and capabilities inspired me to continue to learn and grow to be a better teacher. Empowering students to step boldly onto their own path, in turn, inspired me to seek out and pursue my own learning.
At that time, I associated “leadership” with “administration” — as something embodied by a single individual, separate from the essential connection between learning and teaching. As my path has meandered, however, my understanding of leadership has profoundly changed.
I now see leadership as inextricably bound to my own learning and the learning of others. By approaching my work with deep curiosity, a willingness to take risks, a genuine desire to seek and understand — I strive to foster the conditions that make learning and growth possible for the students and the communities I serve. Leadership is not separate from learning and teaching; it is at its core.
I lead because I am a learner, committed to connecting in meaningful ways with others, to both be changed and to create change. I lead because I believe in the capacity of human beings to grow and learn and create new possibilities for our students and our world.
What are your reasons for leading?