Saturday, January 31, 2015

Leader or Follower?

"Do you want to be a leader, or do you want to be a follower?" A provocative question, that I am sure was designed to elicit a resounding, "LEADER!" But, the reality is that we are called to be both. The reason is quite simple, we're not perfect. Perfection is an illusion. So if we can concede that we're not perfect, that we don't have all the answers, then we must concede too, that at times we are in fact followers.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Leadership Qualities According to 3rd Graders

For the past year and a half, I have been immersed in discussion and reflection around educational leadership, and leadership styles. I've looked at the role of teacher leaders, building leaders, and district leaders. I've read amazing blog posts, articles and books. I feel like I've learned a lot. But I think one of the experiences that is really going to stick with me, is an experience that I had in my own classroom this week.

It just so happened that one of the follow up questions in our anthology (HMH Journeys) asked students to reflect on the qualities that are important in a leader. So out of the mouths of babes (3rd graders), a list of some important leadership qualities:

  • Leaders need to be honest. They need to tell the truth and not lie to people.
  • Leaders need to be kind.
  • Leaders need to do the right thing.
  • Leaders need to sacrifice.
  • Leaders need to share with others.
  • Leaders need to care about others.
  • Leaders shouldn't yell.
  • Leaders need to be confident.
  • Leaders need to be prepared for anything.
  • Leaders need to have a lot of skills.
  • Leaders need to be able to give good advice.
  • Leaders can't be all about themselves.
  • Leaders need to be good sports.

Yeah, I kind of think they nailed it. Next time you're wondering what it takes or means to be a leader, ask your students - they have incredible insight.

Embracing "The Not Perfect Hat Club"

A little while back I had a really interesting conversation with Jena Ball (@JenaiaMorane). She shared a new project that she, and her Critterkin crew were working on. The project she described is The Not Perfect Hat Club. More than a club, in the traditional sense, to me it seems more of an adoption of an attitude or a way of thinking and being. It is something that will assist both children and adults in addressing what is becoming an over-emphasis on achievement and attainment, and quite frankly the perpetuation of perfectionism. It will help individuals focus on the journey rather than the outcome, to recognize and value their talents and the talents of others, and to embrace the often uncomfortable feelings associated with challenge. 

I am excited to see this project unfold both as an educator, and as a mom. I want our children to know that learning is messy, and that while striving to do one's best is important, perfection is not. I want our children to appreciate the journey, to revel in the process, rather than limit their focus to the outcome or product. I want our children to grow up with curiosity and wonder, and to understand that creativity is within all of us, and can be expressed in a multitude of ways. As adults, I hope that this project will help us develop the courage to take risks, to try something new and to be vulnerable. Together, we are "perfectly, not perfect."

To learn more about this project, and to join The Not Perfect Hat Club check out: