Creativity is a driving force in my life and the lens through which I view new challenges and responsibilities. There are many similarities between the process of creating a good design and the way a successful leader interacts with others. For example, a work of art is successful when it communicates a clear message, makes people think, engages the audience, challenges your views, and makes you feel something. Likewise, a good leader is also often defined by their ability to communicate, engage, and motivate.
The Principles of Design are the rules a designer follows to create a good composition that efficiently delivers a message to an audience. These principles have many similarities to the strategies that can be followed to increase leadership efficacy. The principles include: consistency, simplicity, prioritizing, alignment, contrast and unity. Below is a chart that illustrates the parallels between using the principles to create a good design, and using leadership effectively communication and establish relationships.
MY LEADERSHIP STYLE
The objectives I hope to develop as a leader are to get out of the office and be visible, work to create a culture of learning and collaboration, celebrate each other’s successes and risk taking, challenge new and veteran teachers to continually develop, and to remember to have fun and enjoy the small victories. I believe this can be accomplished best by following Greenleaf’s model of servant leadership. It is described in the book Leadership and Theory as a model that “values community because it provides a face-to face opportunity for individuals to experience interdependence, respect, trust, and individual growth” (Greenleaf, 1970). I believe a good leader is versatile and creative and able to determine in each unique situation how to lead and what style is most effective in that moment.
ACCOUNTABILITY FOR STUDENT'S ACADEMIC & SOCIAL SUCCESS
In regard to accountability, no one gets to be anonymous. Each person is an important part of achieving the success of the school, and everyone needs to be accountable for their contributions. Each student should have a personal connection with someone at the school, they need to know they have at least one person who cares about them and their academic and social success. Teachers also need that same connection with the administrators. Students are accountable for their actions, teachers are expected to follow school protocols with fidelity and administrators are all expected to take an active role in overseeing and communicating.
During an SEL training, I participated in an unforgettable activity where the names of every student were displayed around the room, the staff was asked to put a star next to each student they had a meaningful connection with. After the activity concluded we discussed that some names had many stars, but there were also names that had none. A list was compiled of the students with no stars and teachers were challenged to reach out and check in with them. I think putting a name and a face to every student and staff member is an important first step in keeping everyone accountable for the collective success of the students and school.
HOW MY PHILOSOPHY IS AN EMERGING LEADERSHIP MODEL
In my undergraduate education program, I recall learning various theories and pedagogy and feeling excited to get into the classroom. I also remember finally being there and feeling all the theories and hypothetical discussions did not make me feel prepared for the day to day expectations of a teacher. Likewise, moving into an administrative role is not something you can entirely prepare for. Each position will come with a unique set of challenges and idiosyncrasies. It's only through hands on experience, asking questions and learning from others who are more experienced than you, that you can become a skillful leader. This is a journey, and I don’t expect to walk in as an expert, but an observer and an active participant, ready to do the hard work to gain the wisdom and perspective that only comes with practice.
Plato’s famous Allegory of the Cave, is a hypothetical narrative of a group of prisoners who have never been outside of the cave. They can see shadows of objects from a fire, but have never actually seen what is beyond the walls with their own eyes. The allegory illustrates the relation between education and truth. An article titled “Education and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave” states, “The process of progressing out of the cave is about getting educated and it is a difficult process; in fact, it requires assistance and sometimes force. Here Plato is implying that when getting an education there is a struggle involved. He is telling us about our struggle to see the truth, and to be critical thinkers” (Lodhi, 2017). I am excited to see for myself what is out there, to challenge my views and grow as a professional. I am passionate and capable and ready to be part of the positive growth I want to see in my school district.
Kark, R., Van Dijk, D., & Rachel Vashdi, D. (2017, December 21). Motivated or Demotivated to Be Creative: The Role of Self‐Regulatory Focus in Transformational and Transactional Leadership Processes. Applied Psychology, 67(1).