Friday, July 30, 2010

Do You Dare Look in the Mirror?

I am a loud mouth, I have opinions, I try to hide them sometimes successfully, most of the time unsuccessfully.  My school has undergone a lot of changes in the last couple of years and many new staff members have joined, myself included.  When you are new it is hard to not be excited to be there; after all you have just begun your journey.  It is hard to not be enthusiastic.  It is hard to not embrace any new idea that comes your way and then share it with everyone you meet.  While this can be a great quality, in large doses it becomes a nuisance.  We sometimes forget that even though an idea is packaged as a new thing, it is often something that came through the school 20 years earlier.  We are seen as one-track people, closed off to other ideas, too focused on our path and we blame others for being the same way, too ignorant to see ourselves in the reflection.

It is true that we lead by example, so every day this year, I want to be positive.  I want to be a multiplier, as Liz Wiseman calls us in her book "Multipliers."  People of this nature are leaders that instead of taking all credit, pass it on and enable others to grow.  Ideas are thought of around these people, discussion is lively, other people's voices are heard.  When you run into a multiplier, you know it; your head is full of new ideas and enthusiasm for whatever you spoke about.  I can point to many of such leaders in my school and in my district and not many of them are in official leadership positions.  

You also know when you meet the other type of person; the divisor.  These people lead from the top, they do not listen to ideas or invite discussion.  They are so focused on their goal, that even though what you say may benefit that goal, they cannot process or implement it. Divisors leave you feeling flat, demotivated, unappreciated, and ignored.  Many times, I have run into these people as well. 

So ask yourself much as I have; this new year do you plan on being a divisor or a multiplier?  Will you open your door to new inspiration, or at the very least leave it open a crack so that a couple of ideas may sneak in?  Will people want to come to you to participate in discussions, or will they be afraid to voice their opinion?  I have been a divisor, and I promise, never again.  However, to start this journey, I had to look at myself and really see myself to discover my effect on others.  Do you have the guts to look at who you are and then be honest enough to see if it needs change?  That is my hope for all the leaders in my school; whether leaders by title or leaders by nature.  Understand yourself so that you may understand the role you play.  Be positive, be eager, but know when to be quiet and listen.  The silence can be just as inspiring as the discussion.

While I cannot change people, I can change myself.  I want to become a full-time multiplier.  I want to spark other people's intelligence and inspiration.  I want to get out of the way of new innovation, changes, and random exploration.  Not only do I want to be a positive force among my staff, but also min my classroom.  Kids can also be divided into these tow categories but are often not aware of how they affect others.  We must therefore lead by example and point out why some people make us feel better about ourselves.

This is my reflection and thoughts on school leadership as prompted by Scott McLeod's call for edubloggers to speak about leadership today for Leadership Day 2010.


mrshoneysett said...

Great post!! I haven't heard of the book 'Multipliers' before and have now added it to my wish list! I love this concept and definitely aspire to be a full time multiplier myself! Being aware of your leadership and affect on others is important. Reflect, reflect, reflect...

Thanks for getting me thinking,

Ryan Bretag said...

When I was earning my educational leadership degree, a professor told me that you need to check you ego daily.

That piece of advice has stuck with me, but during last winter it slipped away a bit. I spent less and less time reflecting and more and more time reacting. I really noticed it because I stopped blogging (my key reflection platform).

Looking at that time period, I was not myself nor was I nearly as effective. Your post highlights a big reason why: even though I lived by what you term a "multiplier", not keeping the mirror on oneself can cause even multipliers to not be at their peak.

Mrs Ripp aka 4thGrdTeach said...

Thank you for your comments. Ryan, that happens to me all the time too. I feel like I am on top of the world, and then I realize that I am not checking my ego. We ask our students to constantly evaluate their behaviors and choices and yet some times we forget to look at ourselves. It is truly, as Mrs Honeysett says, about the reflection.

SMcClements said...

I love that term "multipliers". This last year I can really relate to you comment: "When you are new it is hard to not be excited to be there; after all you have just begun your journey. It is hard to not be enthusiastic. It is hard to not embrace any new idea that comes your way and then share it with everyone you meet. " I have learned the hard way that sometimes educators are not open to new ideas. Thanks for reminding me the key concept--mulitply and not to lose heart.

Mrs Ripp aka 4thGrdTeach said...

Dear Susan,
Never, ever lose heart. I know how it feels, I know how sometimes you feel so alone in your excitement but trust me someone out there shares that same excitement! Thank you for opening up and sharing your comment, I look forward to hearing more about your learning journey.


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