Leaders – in the teaching profession, one hears this word really often. We are often told that every teacher is a leader in a way.
I started teaching about 7 years ago with no real qualifications or experience. I had turned 40 a couple of years ago and was looking for something to do. I was going through a particularly unhappy time in my life and needed desperately to find some meaning in my life.
I had learned Spanish in high school and there was a vacancy for a Spanish teacher at the school where my kids were studying so I decided to brush up my Spanish skills and start using them.
I didn’t have a very heavy teaching load in my first year so I used my time learning as much as I could about teaching – from colleagues, from books, from websites. I slowly discovered a world of educators through online forums, through blogs and, much more recently, through Twitter and Facebook, who were so willing to share their thoughts and ideas and experiences with the world. I grew hungry to learn more everyday and I grew in confidence as well.
I hadn’t joined education with any desire to become a leader but within a few years of my joining, I was made the Assistant DP Coordinator and then, after a couple of years, the DP Coordinator. I am likely to move into a new role shortly which will involve greater responsibility.
Taking on leadership roles has always scared me because I feel so hopelessly under qualified. But I am extremely fortunate that I have had a lot of support and encouragement from my bosses. I have learned so much from them, especially from the person who I report to. She has been my mentor and guide and, oftentimes, my conscience, and my most ardent cheerleader.
As I prepare myself mentally for my new role, I need to reflect on what kind of leader I would like to be.
One person writing on leadership I truly admire is George Couros. I enjoy following his blog The Principal of Change. According to him, a leader’s role is ” to build a relationship with each individual, pushing them to be better every day.”
Of the 8 qualities in the image above, the one I need to work on most (I think) is confidence. The one thing I hope I never become is an autocratic leader who stifles others. I am currently doing a course from Coursera called Foundations of Teaching and Learning and the instructor, Professor John MacBeath, was talking about the “toxins” that demotivate teams and some of the things he listed were:
- “ideas rejected or stolen
- constant carping criticism
- being ignored
- being judged
- being over-directed
- not being listened to
- being misunderstood”
I would like to be someone who is trusted and who trusts others and inspires each team member to do his/her best.