"For this week’s topic, I want you to think about how you develop leadership in your buildings/work. How do you promote others to lead? This is important to focus on whether we try to “control” our people, or “unleash” their talents. What are some of the things that you do that make this happen?"This year, as I have been focusing a bit on growing teacher leadership, I have (re-)learned two lessons about developing leadership.
Lesson one started about more than one year ago. A teacher, we'll call her Gladys, asked me if she should apply for the newly vacated position of Director of Curriculum for the district. Wow! Sure. Gladys is a great teacher with a fairly wide-ranging teaching experience. She'd proved willing and able to take on some building and district leadership roles. Go for it. But, wait. If Gladys were to go to central office, then she wouldn't be here. Not sure I liked the sound of that. I kept my reservations to myself and encouraged her to apply. More qualified applicants came forward and Gladys did not get the job. We dodged that one - this time.
That brings us to this past June. Upon the sudden departure of another district principal, the superintendent asked what I thought about Gladys becoming principal. Wow! Sure. Gladys is a great teacher with a great attitude and ability to see the big picture. Through the last year, she'd taken on even more of a leadership role in the building. But wait, if Gladys were to go be a principal, then she wouldn't be here. Not sure I liked the sound of that. This time, I shared my reservations. Gladys proved to be the most qualified candidate and got the job. No dodging this time.
A lesson from my old photography days (you know, with film), crept back into my mind. When you develop the negative (the film), it is in service of a positive (the print). Not exactly sure what that means, but the point is clear: when you actively work to develop a teacher into a teacher-leader, sometimes it works really well the teacher-leader wants to become a leader-leader.
The second lesson from the leadership darkroom, you can't always be certain of what will develop once you start processing. Hmm.
With these two lessons, back under my belt, I enter this school year right back at it. I am actively working with a teacher or two to develop their leadership. They may move on or develop into something I don't expect. I can handle that. Both lessons were part of why I loved developing photographs, and both lessons are why I love developing leaders.