Saturday, October 4, 2014

Lessons in Leadership Week 2

Another bonus of being a connected educator is that you end up learning about, and getting to know some really brilliant folks from all different walks of life. People that are willing to share their talent and their expertise. People that are willing to be a little bit vulnerable, and a whole lot of courageous. People that are willing to put their experiences out there for others to learn from.

There are a bunch of bloggers that I read pretty consistently. I find their writing leads me to greater reflection of my own practice, and often challenges me in some way. You can find the links to their blogs below. All of them are truly gifted, and are inspiring. This week however, there were a few blog posts that stood out, one by George Couros about the 8 Characteristics of the Innovative Leader, A Principal's Note to Self: Please Stow Your Baggage in the Overhead Compartment by Seth Berg, and Lead By Example Others Will Follow by Lolly Daskal. These three posts look at leadership from slightly different vantage points, and yet there are points of intersection and some common themes. Here's a list of the 5 that stood out for me.

  1. I need to be the change that I want to see in my classroom, my school, my District. I can only control my actions, and can only work in my sphere of influence, and while that sphere may be small, it can have an immediate impact. Just like ripples in a pond, it may start small touching first my students and their families, or my grade-level or building colleagues, but that ripple has the ability to spread.
  2. I need to focus on the positive. There are certainly plenty of things we could complain about, everything from the insanity of high-stakes testing to the corporate reform agenda, focusing on the positive can be easier said than done. But shifting our focus to the positive is precisely what is necessary. Negative thoughts are draining, conversely when we focus on the positive things that are happening in our classrooms, schools, districts and in those of our colleagues around the globe, those can be truly life-giving.
  3. I need to put myself in other people's shoes. How many times have we heard that we need to put ourselves in somebody else's shoes? I remember my Mom saying it to me plenty as a kid, and I've certainly used it myself on my own kids, but it's not easy. Quite frankly we're all a little self-centered, despite our best intentions to be otherwise. It is easier to put yourself in somebody else's shoes if you take the time to get to know that person, to build a relationship with them, to gain some understanding of their perspective. Most of us have pretty similar hopes and dreams be it for our lives personally, the lives of our children, or our community.
  4. I need to appreciate others more. Take the time to notice, acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of others. We are a community, and we need each other - it is important to acknowledge this and support it. 
  5. I need to be present, and in the moment. Our lives are hectic. We need to consciously slow down, tune out the distractions and tune into one another.
I realize that none of these in and of themselves are particularly earth-shattering, and if you are a leader in any capacity, you know them to be true, and yet sometimes they get forgotten. In the hustle and bustle, in the unending list of demands, some of these can get lost. It is good to have a reminder every now again. I think this week I might actually grab some post-its and leave myself some of these reminders.

Some of my favorite blogs (other than the ones listed above) in no particular order...

Jon Harper:
Ben Gilpin:
Tony Sinanis:
Peter DeWitt:
Lisa Meade:
Joe Sanfelippo:


  1. Great reflection and words to remember. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Another GREAT reflection on 5 key points to focus on, Christina! I particularly connected with #2 and #5 as those are areas I need to remember each day! As always, your reflections are inspiring. Thanks for sharing!