I am a lot smarter now than I was five years ago.
Simply saying that out loud to people, tends to throw them off and sometimes even suggest there is a certain arrogance in the statement, but I am comparing myself only to myself, not to others. That being said, I distinctly remember a few years ago a long time friend of mine who is a principal, was listening to me talk in a conversation, turned to me and said, “What happened to you? When did you become smart?” Simply stated, putting myself into spaces where I had not only access to information, but more importantly, the thoughts of others, accelerated my learning in areas of interest.
I pride myself on being a “sponge”, and look for others to connect with that highlight that same attribute. Do I know it all? Not even close. But I am willing to not only grow, but apply what I know. Any person in a leadership must embrace both the concepts of not knowing everything, while also having a willingness to learn. Too many schools are limited to the idea of “we don’t know what we don’t know”, but don’t try to find out.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” John F. Kennedy
When I first went into administration, my former principal shared with me the idea that I would become a much better teacher if I went to teachers classrooms. Access daily to seeing great teachers teach, would give me an opportunity that I didn’t have as a teacher. The problem was that I didn’t need to necessarily become a better teacher, but I needed the teachers in my school to become better. Instead of seeing a practice in a classroom that we would share days or sometimes weeks later ensured that great teaching and learning would NOT go viral. Instead of waiting, teachers would blog or tweet about their practice, and this openness would accelerate not only the learning, but the conversations that would happen in the staffroom. People would start asking questions about what they saw through social media while they were in the staffroom; we did not depend solely on the scheduled professional learning days; we had access to the thoughts and practices of one another 24/7 and removed the isolation that had been so prevalent in schools years prior.
As a leader, this willingness to learn is essential to the growth of all those that you we serve. My knowledge, or lack there of it, impacts all those around me. Ignorance or a lack of willingness to learn from leadership often leads to slower growth from any organization. Accelerated learning is crucial to accelerated leadership. As we grow, so do our organizations. These ideas are correlated not only in education, but in all areas.
Some of the questions that drove this growth…
How are we breaking down both the time and physical barriers that have led the field of education to be “isolated”?
How does the ownership of my own learning impact those that I serve?
How do we make great teaching and learning practice go viral in our organization?
The old practices of waiting for the staff learning day for the growth of individuals and our organizations are no longer acceptable in a world where transparency and openness are becoming the norm. If we want to accelerate innovate leadership and learning, closing our doors and mindsets to the technology that is afforded to us to create this openness in learning and leadership, is no longer acceptable.
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