What Are You Waiting For?

In some capacity, everyone is waiting for an area of their life to change.

As educators, we always want to improve in many sectors, but we often do not feel in the driver’s seat of teaching due to ever changing curriculum, standards, assessments, and more. These factors beyond the control of teachers lead them to feel stuck in a conundrum while thinking, “Where do I even begin when each day something else is the new best practice?”

So, we wait for someone to give us the magic professional development and recipe for success. With an expert’s opinion, we can then be sure that what we are doing is correct, right?

Wait…not so fast.

I am a words and book junkie. I value the art of connecting on a global scale and learning from experts each day. But, I also know that we as educators are professionals. We are good at what we do. We love our kids, and we work hard to do what is best for them each day. We build upon our practice consistently.

So, let us stop underestimating ourselves. Let’s stop waiting. Let us begin to trust who we are and our innate abilities.

Whatever that goal is that you have in mind, just go for it.

What do you want at your school?

Do you want to try a paperless classroom? Try it. Do you want to start makerspaces at your school? Do it.

Be your personal advocate and never look back.

We cannot wait on others. Each time we halt, we become a roadblock to each other and to the students we serve.

Be bold enough to try and be relentless enough to try it again and again.

The results will not always be picture perfect, but you can never improve if you are not courageous enough to take the first step.

 

Go forth and be awesome,

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Build a Collaborative Culture by Asking for Help

The title of this post is incredibly misleading; There is much more that goes into building a collaborative culture than simply asking for help. But, I must admit that asking for help is a meaningful start. Although I strive to serve others in all I do, I also have come to understand that we must be willing to ask for help first before others feel comfortable reaching out to us.

Many of us hear metaphors that include:

– Life is a “give and take.”
– “You give before you get.”
– “You must sow the seed before you reap the harvest.”

Although these sayings have meaningful intentions, after years of hearing “always give first,” you begin to feel guilty when asking for even the tiniest assistance. Furthermore, sometimes we even feel weak or inferior if we ask for help; As if one person can somehow know all of the answers to life. We cannot do it alone; We need each other.

I have found that by asking others for genuine guidance, you start to heighten the comfort level between you and your peers. Giving to others can include providing others with resources, suggestions, time, effort, and your heart. It can even be established by asking a question to gather feedback, like, “What would you do in this circumstance?” or “I see that you are really successful with _________, do you have any tips that you could share?”

By asking for help, you can also show interest in another person. In addition, you can build a culture where people conclude that “If he/she feels comfortable asking for help, I am going to feel at ease asking him/her for help next time.”

Everyone deserves to feel heard and it all begins with us.

It may sound over-sentimental, but try asking a colleague a question that you may not usually talk to, or pick their brain for essential insight that could improve your teaching practice. You will be astonished to see how new friendships can build and how your school culture may launch to the next level with the beginnings of one small act.

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How Do You Define Leadership?

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If you take a step back within the walls of your school, who is making the majority of the decisions?

Through connecting with other educators around the world, I often hear the stories of others in the world of leadership. When many answer the question above, the first answer I hear is usually “administrators and superintendents.” Others sometimes say “teacher leaders.” I rarely hear this response: “students.”

There are many schools around the globe that who are guiding authentic student voice for the decisions they make. But beyond this, I do believe that we have an underlying issue with how we define leadership.

Leadership is NOT:

-The role you have

-An age

-The years of experience you have in your position

-How many people are “below you” in your position

-A fancy name plate

If we look into how our schools are often run, we still have this traditional definition of what leadership is, and it defines everything we do.

In many cases, to become a school leader you need to meet a prerequisite of years even to be considered for a school administration experience. Although experience is important, why don’t we look at people for who they as individuals and what they bring to the table rather than following a set of parameters established before them?

When guidelines set everything we follow, it makes sense why teachers who speak to me from around the nation feel that they need to earn their leadership, even as a teacher.

If we have this mentality for our adults, chances are this can also be reflected in the way we treat students.

Do students walk into your school as leaders, or do they have to earn it? Leadership should not be viewed as a privilege for the few; it should be a right for us all.

As Todd Whitaker says, “The school should be changing more to fit the new teacher, not the other way around.”

We often expect kids, young teachers, and parents to adapt to us, rather than us learning from THEM.

Ralph Nader says, “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” I would like to challenge this; I believe that everyone is a leader, it is not something that we “produce.” If we do not see our own people as leaders, chances are we do not know their strengths. But, we can change this to create environments that help kids and teachers believe they matter.

How we define leadership is crucial. What does leadership mean to you and your kids?

Kara Welty

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