What does it mean to be a leader... to show leadership skills... to lead? There are probably more answers to what is a leader or what makes a good leader out there than anyone one person could ever read. A Google search of the word "leadership" brings up 294,000,000 results!
This year, through my school board, the Ottawa Catholic School Board, I completed a course in the "Leadership Journey" series called "Leadership, Part I".
This course was a five part session in which a variety of leaders in our board came to speak about what leadership means to him/her. We learned about the different types of personalities and leadership styles and how these affect our journey to leadership and how there is no one "right" style of leadership or one "best" way to lead; that successful leadership is a package of many different, interconnected pieces, variable by person, role and situation.
One of my take-aways from the session was the concept of "small l" versus "big L" leadership; the idea behind this premise is that "big L" leader are those with official leadership roles - coaches, mentors, managers, principals, etc., whereas "small l" leaders may not be in a formal leadership role but still have the opportunity to impact change and inspire others.
Many of us in education are "big L" leaders to our students but "small l" leaders in our schools, boards and professions. When we think of leadership, we are so apt to think of the formal leaders that sometimes we can forget about those informal leaders who we meet everyday.
I, for one, as a teacher who is connected to many inspiring educators on Twitter, have come to see the true power and influence of small l leaders. I spent hours each day (yes, even in the summer... more than ever!) reading their posts, clicking their links, re-tweeting their tweets and researching the information they share to try to incorporate the innovative ones into my own professional practice. Whether these educators are first year teachers or twenty year veterans, they have taken the initiative to share their professional practice and learning with me. In doing so, many of them have inspired me to try something new or reflect on my own practice and find ways to improve or incorporate new things. If that's not leadership in the profession, what is?! They have not have formal titles of leadership but they are leading from within.
This is a very exciting time in education with the continual development of all sorts of new and engaging educational technologies. As with anything new... any change... there is always some reluctance, resistance, fear, etc. As always, we need leaders who are willing and ready to embrace the journey and help pave the pathway for others, offering guidance and assistance on the journey. Perhaps the most #edtech savvy person in the school isn't an administrator but a rookie teacher. Small l leadership at its best! What a great opportunity to connect with admin who may not feel especially comfortable with technology and find ways together to help expand professional development and learning!
For educational technology to be effective, we must be open-minded. We must accept that it is a vast realm that can be overwhelming and reach out to others for support. Developing a great PLN (professional learning network) online is an ideal starting point; connecting with others who have already been on the tech journey for months or years will help, as it has helped me. My Twitter PLN has opened my eyes and mind to far more educational technology opportunities than I could have imagined. Slowly but surely I am learning about more and more tools and practices in #edtech which I will pass on to those who learn from me, as I have learned from so many before.
Leadership isn't about having all of the answers; it's about having the open mind to try new things and find solutions.
At our final "leadership" course, the keynote speaker was the President of Algonquin College, Kent MacDonald. My favourite part of his speech was when he shared a sentiment of Michael Dell saying (I'm taking liberties here and paraphrasing...) "Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room."
A leader must always be willing to learn from others. If not, then why lead?
I leave you with two of my favourite quotations on leadership....
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Who am I?
Hi! I'm Megan. 21st century learner and teacher. I am passionate about DI, assessment, student success and #edtech. My blog is where I share what is happening in my classes, my professional learning and sometimes things that are on the outer circle of education. Comments always welcome!