If we look at leaders outside the context of education, we find people who inspire, have a vision, take risks, are passionate, strive for success, have high expectations and work hard. In education, it would make sense that one should have the same attributes…right?
There are many types of leaders, some more effective than others. Leadership is difficult if you are not a natural. Which makes me wonder, can leadership be taught? Can someone be taught to be inspiring and motivating? There are many courses and seminars out there that claim ‘effective leadership’ but, I’m not 100% sure that those solely entail leadership without crossing into the boundaries of management; that’s an easy line to cross.
It is my belief that everyone has room for improvement and should strive to be better versions of themselves. Good leaders know that their presence as a leader is not just about their innate personality. A leader’s presence is built a day at a time, through interaction by interaction; they are accountable for their actions and are able to prioritise needs effectively, both their own and others’. They know that respect is something that is earned and skills to motivate are gained.
In my opinion, great education leaders should lead by example. They shouldn’t be afraid to get into the nitty gritty and be in the classroom as much as possible so that they don’t lose touch with pupils and teachers. Leaders who can relate to their colleagues can better understand and find ways to guide, support and motivate others.
As a leader in an educational setting, you are expected to be one of if not the best teacher in the building. You can’t be an effective leader if you were never an effective teacher. Research shows that to be an effective school leader you should be an instructional leader, which means spending at least 20 percent of your time observing teachers and helping them grow. You can’t do this unless you know what good teaching is and as we’ve already established, this comes with classroom experience. So, if you are up for the challenge, if you can show off good lessons you will see your teachers blossom under your tutelage and instructional leadership.
In a nutshell, to be more than a nameplate on the door of your office turn back to teaching. Plan and teach engaging lessons, look at improving teaching as a whole and focus on both pupils and teachers in the classroom. Then, just maybe you’ll turn into that example that other teachers will want to follow, without realising it. For it’s teachers who inspire teachers… or not?
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Till next time…