If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader…John Quincy Adams

Leaders, educational and otherwise, affect their worlds like pebbles dropped in water – with ripples spreading wider and wider. In the last week it seems that I have come across a large number of posts on twitter and blogs I read on the idea of educational leadership.

As the world of education continues to evolve and change the need for leaders with varied skill sets is ever increasing. The image above depicts eight skills that the modern leader has and I am certain there are far more. Some of the highlights from the last week…

Principal, Eric Sheninger in his blog this week “Be the Change You Want to See in Education,” outlines some of the reforms that he feels fortunate to be a part of leading:
“(E)ach of us has the capacity to initiate positive change in order to create a teaching and learning culture that pushes our students to think critically, unleash their creativity, actively solve problems, promotes service, and inspires students to challenge themselves.  This is the type of reform that I want to be a part of.  Thankfully, this is my reality.”

Obviously, the culture Sheninger talks about is, at least partially, the result of his strong leadership (he is a good follow on twitter too – @NMHS_Principal).

In my ongoing quest to manage the vast amount of information on Twitter I have set up an account on Summify and one day this gem popped up from 30 year veteran Middle School Principal, Mike McCarthy. “Ten Big Ideas for School Leadership,” was an interesting read as it outlined his idea for how to make school work. As a new school administrator I find much value in reading about others experience and how it might impact my ability to be an effective leader. McCarthy’s list is really good and covers many facets of great schools – it includes a couple of nuggets that I really liked and that I agree are essentially important for schools:
1.) Your School Must Be For All Kids 100 Percent of the Time
8.) Have a Bias for Yes
10.) Large Change Needs to be Done Quickly
(Further explanations and points are outlined in the article)


* Content from jarche.com is protected under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License

Another interesting blog that I came across this week was Harold Jarche’s blog entitled, “Leadership emerges from network culture.” In the blog he examines the ideas around how leadership has changed in the different organizational structures that exist in today’s world.

He asserts, “as networked, distributed workplaces become the norm, trust will emerge from environments that are open, transparent and diverse. As a result of improved trust, leadership will be seen for what it is; an emergent property of a balanced network and not some special property available to only the select few. This shift may give us the real democracy our organizations need to realize their full creative human potential.”

This idea that leadership is changing as structures do is not foreign to education as educators create, and are a part of PLNs that extend well beyond the walls of their schools and even districts. I need to look no further then my own experience developing a PLN and the fact that leaders emerge for me within that structure without formal titles or designations. In essence, I have created my own leadership team and I follow their lead with resources based on my own interests and desires.

The idea of informal leadership is also an important one to contemplate as schools and education evolves. How do leadership structures evolve informally and formally in and out of the classroom?

I have long believed that great coaches make great teachers and leaders because they have to look at big picture ideas, set a course for the group, and get buy in from others to make the journey a success. Carol Ann Tomlinson in the October issue of Educational Leadership has written an article entitled, “Every Teacher a Coach,”  which she argues something very similar. She asserts that great coaches possess the following four traits and links them to good educational practice:

  • Great coaches know their sport
  • Great coaches develop players skills
  • Great coaches are great motivators
  • Great coaches are team builders

She finishes with the following statement, “Consider the four attributes of compelling coaching. They make a good case for coaching teachers to be distinguished coaches!

(Sterling Nostedt and I during a U of R Cougar game – I helped coach the men’s team for seven seasons)

I am pretty confident in myself as a coach and would like to think that many of the characteristics that make me a good coach also work in my job as a teacher and administrator.

To me coaching and teaching work hand in hand…glad someone with some letters behind their name agrees – must make me right 8).

Perhaps, the best quotation I came across all week was from Tom Whitby on his blog discussing the “Generational Divide in Education” – he asserts that to improve teaching, learning and leading requires the following,  “To be better teachers we must be better learners. To be better leaders we need to be better learners. This is not generational. Old and young alike can give up on learning. We see that every day.”

This is a big jump but following Whitby’s logic – by taking this class I am becoming a better leader…I like that! Thanks #eci831!!!

@gcouros posted a link to the following video which I thought was interesting – especially in light of my ongoing thoughts around leadership. There is certainly a difference between managing and leading and this video outlines 10 keys by Scott Williams.

I love the statement that leaders are in the business of developing more leaders…

I really found this video thought provoking and have revisited it a couple of times this week already.

“Leaders change the world!”

I want to do that…

What do you think about leadership in education? Do you aspire to make change happen in your world? How do you lead?

Lead, follow, or get out of the way…Thomas Paine

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About mickpanko

New HS vice-principal...trying to figure it all out. I would like to wax poetic but it is more like leg waxing - I think.
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18 Responses to If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader…John Quincy Adams

  1. Kelsey says:

    As someone who is in a brand-new-for-her-job this year, I feel like you have actually said out loud what I have not been able to articulate. I am a better teacher NOW than ever before because I have had to learn to be… I also feel that as an “administrator in training”, I am grateful to those that have taught me how to best lead, on my professional journey, and I hope that I am also being that leader that is teaching and inspiring those that will follow.

  2. kreuj says:

    As a novice teacher, my leadership goals until this year have focused on students and patients. I have desired to be a transformational leaders who “use ideals, inspiration, intellectual stimulation and individual consideration to influence the behaviors and attitudes of others (Bass & Aviolo, as cited in McGuire & Kennerly, 2006) There really is much overlap between attributes of a great teacher and a great leader. I couldn’t agree more with your quote from Thom Whitby. My new learning feeds the way I approach my students and the learning tasks. I take risks and am transparent about my victories and challenges. I am more empathetic to students when I am on the learning curve myself.
    As I’m concurrently taking a course called “Leadership in Nursing” I am building a leadership development plan, which will expand my sphere of influence beyond students and patients. I identify strongly with a servant leadership ideology (Greenleaf, 1977).

    Greenleaf, R. Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness. Paulist Press, Mahwah NJ.
    McGuire, E., & Kennerly, S. (2006). Nurse managers as transformational and transactional leaders. Nursing Economics, 24(4), 179-185.

  3. mickpanko says:

    Whitby’s assertion makes great sense and in my opinion helps us build trust with students when they see us risk-takers as well.

    Best of luck on your journey as teacher-leader.

  4. Mick,
    I am thoroughly impressed by your thought process. Your comparison to coaching is spot on. I myself coached three sports (football, ice hockey, lacrosse) and have found that those experiences provided me with invaluable leadership lessons that I still utilize to this day. Leaders need to model, provide support, be flexible, take calculated risks, articulate a vision, and communicate effectively. Coincidentally, these are also characteristics of successful coaches. You are well on your way to becoming the type of innovative educational leader that is desperately needed in our schools. If I can ever be of any assistance you know where to find me.

  5. tomwhitby says:

    Mick
    I take heart in the fact that you obviously get it. The fact that you are continuing to learn as an education leader speaks to the problem.Too many teachers and administrators consider the procurement of their jobs as the pinnacle of their career. Once they get there, they stop learning in order to be the education experts. They fail to recognize that all information and change did not stop moving forward the day that they got their job. Many fail to stay relevant believing what they have already learned will serve them forever; It doesn’t. If one does not continue to learn in a culture that is driven at a pace determined by technology, one will soon be irrelevant.
    Thanks for reading my blog post. I know that I have benefited by reading yours. Thanks!

    • mickpanko says:

      Constantly seeking ways to do things better is essential for educators if we want to provide meaningful experiences for our students. Many thanks for taking the time to read this entry.

  6. timo19 says:

    This is fantastic. The world of teacher leading is often lonely and fraught with pitfalls. I’m a great believer in providing teachers with the tools to become better learners, educators, leaders and people. It’s a tough gig a lot of the time but the rewards can be life changing for them, me and the students they teach. Thanks for the post.

  7. Pingback: Innovative Change is Exciting! « lorenaleibel

  8. alison says:

    Have you ever run across Daniel Goleman? He’s the one who coined ‘Emotional Intelligence’. You may really like this article he wrote about how good leaders take on different styles as the situation requires on account of their good EI skills. Coaching is definitely a part of that.

    Side note: If there is room in your program, I recommend EAHR 821 (Leadership & Supervision in Adult Education and Human Resource Development).

  9. mickpanko says:

    Thanks Alison for the article – I have read some of Goleman’s stuff on EQ in the past and look forward to taking the time to read this.

    I also appreciate the thoughts on EAHR 821 – I was looking at that class the other day.

  10. kjehman says:

    Wow, you have a lot going on in this post and is exciting to explore leadership in education. I love the comparison of the effective teacher and adminstrator to the coach (of course I love that one!) Thanks for the links to several great resources!

  11. mickpanko says:

    Kelley – like everything else in my life – I cannot focus one thing 🙂

    Thanks for the read and the comment!

  12. Pingback: Professional Learning for Educators | isitalladream

  13. lbechard says:

    Mick, as others have noted, thanks for sharing your thoughts and connecting us with additional resources. I too am “in progress” and have been spending the last five + years trying to make sense of where my passions lie. I “fell into” the profession of teacher as I am also an accountant by trade completing both B. Ed and B. Comm before pursuing a CGA designation many moons ago. Early in my career, I worked in the accounting field and made the move to education (post-secondary) when our children were babies. It provided me with a good salary on a part-time basis (no one wanted a part-time accountant) and allowed me to be home with my babies too. Years passed (and more babies) and found myself in a career that I really had not chosen. My husband’s transfer to Fort McMurray gave me some time at home to reflect on where I wanted to go with my career after making a clean break from education. I applied for finance, accounting and business related positions that would make good use of my Accounting and MBA backgrounds but didn’t feel a “fit”. I went back into post-secondary education working in a student services area and with another move to Calgary, found myself in an area that I truly loved – faculty development and support.

    My baby is now in university, so I stuck my head up and looked for leadership roles in post-secondary. I was successful in securing the Director’s position for Olds College’s Calgary Campus and will have an opportunity to lead the development of this urban campus, complete with creating an academic plan and working with academic leaders in Olds regarding programs and services that will suit the Calgary Campus. I too am hoping to lead by empowering those I work with, coaching, mentoring and continuing to learn. I’m not too worried about the learning part, as that’s definitely one of my passions! I will have one course left to complete my second Master’s degree next semester and wondering, “What’s next?” Perhaps an Ed. D…?

  14. mickpanko says:

    sounds like quite a journey…funny sometimes we don’t find a fit – the fit finds us. I am certain that if you continue to learn those around you will too! That is educational leadership in my opinion…

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