Teach & Serve IV, No. 24 | Hard to Recapture…

Teach & Serve IV, No. 24

Hard to Recapture…

January 16, 2019

I would like to suggest that arrogance and good leadership are… incompatible. They… don’t mix

When a leader stops doing the good and hard work, the respect of the community can (and usually does) drop precipitously. The respect of those being led, once lost, is very, very hard to get back. Once a leader has seceded leadership by ceasing to perform the functions of good leadership, effective leadership is almost impossible to recapture. Therefore, a leader must be very aware of and solicitous to the functions of the work of leadership.

The reasons a leader may stop fulfilling the responsibilities of her or his leadership are many. And the reasons do matter. For example, if a leader has issues in her or his personal life that are impacting performance and shares those, as appropriate, with the school community she or he serves, those communities are, typically, very forgiving and understanding. If the leader is confronted by professional circumstance that limits effectiveness and, likewise, can be honest and open about both the pressures and how they will be overcome, a community can understand that and determine its response.

If, however, and this is more common than we might want to acknowledge, a leader is simply tired or has lost interest or feels some functions of leadership simply are not as important to him or her, not as critical, then problems arise. Faculty and staff notice these shifts. They know when things are being done differently or not being done at all. They may confront the leader about them. They may not. Either way, the damage is done, and the damage can be very hard to come back from for the leader.

Effective leaders understand that, once their leadership starts to wane, it is quite difficult to recapture. The difficult (and, ultimately, highly rewarding) work of leadership is constant. Excellent leaders embrace the privilege it is to serve.

 

Teach & Serve IV, No. 24 | Hard to Recapture…

Teach & Serve IV, No. 24

Hard to Recapture…

January 16, 2019

Effective leaders understand that, once their leadership starts to wane, it is quite difficult to recapture.

When a leader, for whatever reason, stops doing the good and hard work, the respect of the community can (and usually does) drop precipitously. Once a leader has seceded leadership by ceasing to perform the functions of good leadership, effective leadership is almost impossible to recapture.  The respect of those being led, once lost, is very, very hard to get back. Therefore, a leader must be very aware of and solicitous to the functions of the work of leadership.

The reasons a leader may stop fulfilling the responsibilities of her or his leadership are many. And the reasons do matter. For example, if a leader has issues in her or his personal life that are impacting performance and shares those, as appropriate, with the school community she or he serves, those communities are, typically, very forgiving and understanding. If the leader is confronted by professional circumstance that limits effectiveness and, likewise, can be honest and open about both the pressures and how they will be overcome, a community can understand that and determine its response. But this is not always the case. Often leaders simply stop leading.

This is more common than we might want to acknowledge. Often, when a leader is simply tired or has lost interest or feels some functions of leadership simply are not as important to him or her, perhaps not as critical as they may once have been, she or he begins to cross things off the list of good leadership. He or she starts to let things go. Perhaps the thought is no one will notice. Perhaps the thought it the school can run itself. Perhaps the thought is all the good work done before this point will carry the institution forward on momentum alone.

Perhaps. But I doubt it.

In a school, faculty and staff notice these shifts. They know when things are being done differently or not being done at all. They may confront the leader about them. They may not. Either way, the damage is done, and the damage can be very hard to come back from for the leader.

Effective leaders understand that, once their leadership starts to wane, it is quite difficult to recapture. The difficult (and, ultimately, highly rewarding) work of leadership is constant. Excellent leaders embrace the privilege it is to serve.

 

EduQuote of the Week | 1.14.19

Make a difference, change the game for the better, leave a legacy, be a guide that someone else can follow and make better, and then someone else will follow that and make that better.

Carlos Wallace

Teach & Serve IV, No. 23 | Arrogance and Leadership

Teach & Serve IV, No. 23

Arrogance and Leadership

January 9, 2019

I would like to suggest that arrogance and good leadership are incompatible. They simply do not mix

The old adage “oil and water don’t mix” is demonstrably true. Head into your kitchen. Find some oil. Put the oil in some water. See what happens. Go ahead. I will wait.

See? What did I tell you?

Oil and water don’t mix. True. Got it.

I would like to suggest that arrogance and good leadership are, likewise, incompatible. They, too, do not mix.

Let us not confuse arrogance and confidence. Confidence is an important quality for a good leader. Good leaders possess confidence. Often the confidence of a good leader comes from experience, a record of good decision making and an understanding of what it means to serve a community. Confidence in effective leaders is founded. It is earned.

Arrogance is another story.

Leaders who are arrogant, who believe theirs is the only voice in the room which carries significant weight, are likely to run into problems. Arrogant leaders do not listen well. Good communication is not their default position and why should it be when they already believe they know what is best in most situations? They are less likely to compromise, to collaborate, to empower. Arrogant leaders believe they are the most critical piece in the school. They believe they have to have a hand in every decision and must be consulted and cow-towed to in every circumstance.

Arrogant leaders rarely succeed over the long term. They may have initial success, especially in schools that may need clarity established around procedures and rules and directions, but their arrogance typically hamstrings them sooner rather than later.

Arrogance and leadership do not mix.

Add it to your list of adages that make sense.

EduQuote of the Week | 1.7.19

The affects you will have on your students are infinite and currently unknown; you will possibly shape the way they proceed in their careers, the way they will vote, the way they will behave as partners and spouses, the way they will raise their kids.

Donna Quesada

Teach & Serve IV, No. 22 | Got to Begin Again – The Fresh Start Effect

Teach & Serve IV, No. 22

Got to Begin Again – The Fresh Start Effect

January 2, 2019

We have this opportunity – this fresh start. We can be mindful of it and all it suggests and all it could mean. We can embrace it with positivity and make it the beginning of something powerful and new.

In the approach to this school year, I wrote about Temporal Landmarks, a concept I first discovered upon reading Daniel H. Pink’s When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing which I highly recommend. As we in the academic game see the end of Christmas Break coming and the resumption of the school year on the horizon, it is a very good time to analyze another point from Pink’s book: the Fresh Start Effect.

In his analysis of when people do things and when they have the most success doing them, Pink discovered that when we do things matters just as much as what we do. As we in education know, there are many, many whens. Pink recommends being conscious of the phenomenon of fresh starts. “Some days stand out,” he writes “when we want to open up a new ledger on ourselves and use them to construct better beginnings.”

Could there be a better lens through which to view the end of our holidays and the start of the next months of companionship with our colleagues and students?

I do not think so.

Let us begin this next part of our year opening the pages of a new ledger. We can do this. We can begin again and not just because the calendar forces us.

But because we want to.

We have this opportunity – this fresh start. We can be mindful of it and all it suggests and all it could mean. We can embrace it with positivity and make it the beginning of something powerful and new. What happened before break, happened. We cannot change it. We cannot go back and re-write it. Most of it was good and life affirming for us and our students. Those parts that were not are in the past. Let us move on from them and let them go.

Let us make a fresh start.

Let us begin again.

EduQuote of the Week | 12.31.18

Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing. Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source – a Sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.

Sarah Ban Breathnach

A Journal of the First Year | Ten

(L) 1994      (R) 2018

It is my intention to share some reflections on the highs, the lows, the excitement, the routine, the successes, the failures and everything in between which I experience the course of the next 10 – 12 months, my first months as a full-time principal of a high school.  Writing this journal will help me grow. Reading it may make you laugh… 


20 | December | 2018

There is very little that resembles a school as it approaches Christmas Break. The sense of anticipation of weeks away from classes infects and excites both the students and the staff and faculty alike days before the actual last day before vacation hits. The halls buzz. The energy changes.

It’s a fun time of year.

There is no better way to go into this Christmas Break than that.

As I approach this break in my first year as principal, I am filled with deep gratitude to the faculty and staff with whom I journey at Mullen High School for so many reasons. I am so thankful for the work they do with our amazing student body, for the care they give to them, for the love they show. I am humbled by them.

Truly.

Breaks give us opportunities to reflect and to assess. In this first year, I have been asked many times how I am doing and how I think the year is going.

I can say with sincere and deep honesty that this year has not proceeded in a predictable manner. I am doing different work in different ways than I possibly could have anticipated as are many of our staff and faculty. The group of professionals which began the year here is not the same group that embarks on Christmas Break. People have gone and people have arrived. Some of us are in different positions. Some of us are doing unanticipated work. Some of us are thrilled. Some of us are wondering about next steps. Some of us are fatigued. Some excited for the days immediately following break.

In all of that, in the unpredictability of the days and weeks and months that make up the trimesters here, in all that we have done, I can say that I am so happy with these first months. I am so proud to serve this faculty and staff and student body.

I am so blessed.

Teach & Serve IV, No. 20 | The Gift of Our Work

Teach & Serve IV, No. 20

The Gift of Our Work

December 19, 2018

The work we do influences the world to come. It shapes society. It changes the world.

Changes. The. World.

That’s a gift worth receiving. It’s a gift worth sharing.

Related image

We do not get tired of good Christmas songs. Well, I do not, anyway. I look forward to their repetition each year. When beginning to compose a post for the week before Christmas this year, I realized I had covered the themes I wanted to in last year’s Christmas post, so I will present it again here and plan to do so annually. I hope you enjoy it.

On many desks and in many inboxes this time of year, teachers and administrators find all manner of remembrances – cards and notes and gifts, tokens of affection and appreciation. Typically, these trinkets and notes do not fully express the gratitude of the students and staff we serve. They are lovely to receive. They are not always reflective of the appreciation our communities feel for us. Our communities typically love us and are grateful for our service.

And, while It is an appropriate time of year for students and staff to thank us, it is an equally appropriate time of year for us to be thankful.

As many of us finish our last-minute tasks, our baking and decorating and preparing, this is a great time of year to think about another great gift we in education are given: the gift of doing work that influences days to come.

Our work reaches beyond us. It reaches through time. It reaches into the future.

We most often do not see ready results. While some of us have been in this work for an extended period of time and we have been able to watch some of the seeds we have planted grow in the lives our students lead after they have left us, we are typically immersed in the day-to-day, the checklist of the moment, the class to come, the next paper to grade.

It is challenging, then, to remember that our reach exceeds our grasp, ever and always. The work we do influences the world to come. It shapes society. It changes the world.

Changes. The. World.

That’s a gift worth receiving. It’s a gift worth sharing.