#leadwild not leadmild How management almost took over leadership this week

Jon Corippo inspired the start: #leadwild not lead mild

Jason Markey cemented the rest.

I have high expectations for myself.  I work hard.  I make my work look easy.  I am fallible, wrong at times, and have much to learn.  And I am good at what I do.  I bring value to students’ experience every day, and I support teachers up to their potential and beyond.

This week, I allowed management missteps to cloud my leadership.  I wallowed in my own errors and failed to rise above and LEAD.

Who is to blame?  At whom should we point a finger?  It doesn’t matter.  Point at me.

What matters is how I (we) move forward.  What do I do when I get mired in management when my eye should be on the prize which is LEADERSHIP.

I think it’s a common pitfall for admin.  The management/leadership balance is always delicate.  Rather than try to maintain a balance, this week has taught me, it’s more important to manage our reaction to management’s pull rather than try to pit once against the other.

I did not manage management well this week.  I allowed myself to get sucked into petty decision-making, scheduling and communication errors when I should have looked to the vision.  What do students need?  How do I fit that need?

Then I would have overcome management and remained fixed on leadership.  I lost my way.

Who is our worst critic?  Yep, it’s me.  It’s you.

So management is a part of our job.  Got it.  When it threatens to degrade the REAL WORK of school, I need to get uber focused, laser like centered and do the work.  Then move on.

That’s what management is. The what, why, who, how… but it can never overtake the WHY.  Why?  It’s all about student SUCCESS.  It’s all about students WANTING to be at school.  It’s all about students feeling SUPPORTED by the adults around them.  It’s all about LEARNING.

I’m on board for that.  I can give time to schedules, staffing, grounds and maintenance but MY REAL JOB is about students, their well being, their growth.

It’s #leadwild, not mild.  That’s LEADERSHIP.


My Defining Moment #youredustory

No moment.  Let’s just put that out there.  I’ve been a teacher all my life.

My mom has old math books with my lesson plans tucked in the pages.  Lots of work, even more homework, harsh consequences.  My 10-year old teacher self ran a tight ship.

My students? Usually stuffed animals.  My younger sister wouldn’t tolerate me and my bossy teacher self for long.

Mrs. Fitzgerald, my 3rd grade teacher, was my model.  I don’t recall a lot of work or huge amounts of homework or an especially harsh woman (my translation of teaching was a bit off).    She ran centers during reading time.  I fondly remember the games we played, the special time we got to read with Mrs. Fitzgerald at the big U-shaped table and her aid, Mrs. Castenada, working with kids all over the room.

I was a talker.  I think I would have sat alone had our room had more space.  As it was, I kept my table partner completely distracted from our lessons.  We played scientist with the pencil holder at our table (contact paper around a soup can).  Two pencils allowed us to reach into our bubbling beaker to extract a very toxic eraser.

I loved school.  I loved playing school.  I was practicing for my teaching career from the start.

In fourth grade, our teacher, Mrs. Dabney, was very ill.  We had a series of substitutes who didn’t stay long.  Mr. Sylvestor was my favorite sub that year.  He was a tall, African American teacher.  That was new.  And he spoke to us as if he knew us from day 1.  As I reflect, he was probably newly credentialed.  He had an easy way about him.  Easier than the other subs whose nerves jumped off them and made the whole class jumpy.  Mr. Sylvestor wore a suit to school.  Also new.  His smile was big and infectious.  I don’t think I had a lot of teachers who smiled.  Why would a smile otherwise stick out?  When he smiled at you, you couldn’t help smile back and feel happy to be at school.

So when was my defining moment?  When did I decide to become a teacher?  Hard to say.  Let’s give 3rd grade the credit.  Mrs. Fitzgerald set the path and Mr. Sylvestor sealed the deal.  I wonder if I’ve payed that forward with any of my students?