A Leader’s Reflection

The past week has been a whirlwind for me, starting with Teachers College’s Reading and Writing Project’s Saturday Reunion on March 18 and ending with Teachers College Leadership Institute March 23 and 24. During this week I was fortunate enough to hear some amazing leaders speak and share their knowledge. Today I find myself reflecting on this past week and how what I learned can positively affect my impact on those in my care.

  • Drew Dudley kicked off TCRWP’s Saturday Reunion. There were so many ideas he shared, one of my biggest take-aways was how we often don’t realize the impact we have on others. (Hear his ‘lollipop’ moment story in the TED Talk below.) He also talked about the harm of the word ‘just’. When people say, ‘I am just a teacher’ or ‘I am just a (fill in the blank)’ they are thinking less of themselves and not celebrating their worth and impact on others. Let’s not let them get away with that. When you hear people introduce themselves that way call them on it. We need to celebrate each other and honor their lives. Leaders are everywhere in our lives, take the time to thank one in your life today.

  • Lucy Calkins closed TCRWP’s Saturday Reunion with a wonderfully touching and inspiring address honoring one of their own: Kathleen Tolan. She celebrated Kathleen’s life and legacy. She also spoke about our impact on students and colleagues in our lives. Encouraging us to ask ourselves at the end of the day or school year (when saying goodbye to our students), ‘What have I given to him? What have a given to them all?” She also spoke about having courage. “If not you, who?” We as educators need to rise up and have courage to be leaders.
  • My week ended with an intensively inspiring Leadership Institute at Teachers College (#LeadershipInstituteTC), presented by Ellie Drago-Severson and Jessica Blum-DeStefano. It focused on meeting our adult learners where they are and supporting their growth. I have been teaching teachers for over 20 years and besides reading articles and books on leadership I have never been at a session exclusively about understanding adult learners. (To learn more about Ellie’s Pillars for Adult Learning and ‘Ways of Knowing’ check out Leading Adult Learning.) If we don’t know how our colleagues process ideas how can we support their growth? Everyone talks about getting your staff’s ‘buy-in’. I would argue that you can’t even begin to talk about how to get ‘buy-in’ until we have taken time to understand those in our care. Specifically understanding how they think and therefore how they react to situations is essential. We also have to work on creating a climate for growth, which includes ‘Living Norms’ for our teams.

What do all of these have in common? The thread that weaves through all of them is the importance  of supporting ourselves and the leaders around us that we are inspired by. Take a moment and thank someone in your life that has inspired you and supported you in your successes then reflect on your climate, does it support growth?