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Leadership through the Looking Glass

ASCD 2014 Annual Conference

Los Angeles, California

This content was presented by ASCD 2013 Emerging Leader Allison Rodman and 2012 Emerging Leader Krista Leh Rundell as part of an Ignite series on teacher leadership at the ASCD 2014 Annual Conference in Los Angeles, CA. Allison and Krista used this format to explore the characteristics of effective teacher leaders, comparing them to Alice in Wonderland.

You may have been asked by a mentor to lead.

You may feel drawn to lead.

You may want to push yourself to grow.

Teacher leadership requires that you be open to new experiences – and to learning.

Take the first step.

You need to trust your abilities.

You wouldn’t be in this position if people didn’t believe in you, so…

Believe in those who believe in you.

Don’t doubt your talent.

Know who you are.

Not everyone is going to understand why you want to step into this role; some may even question your motives.

It will require you to carefully straddle two worlds.

Sometimes you will feel torn in different directions.

Build a PLN.

Look outside the classroom and school for professional learning opportunities.

It may SEEM like more work at first, but the connections will leave you refreshed and re-invigorated.

Grow it through local networking opportunities, Twitter, and conferences – start today.

Be flexible.

You will feel your views growing and changing; this is normal.

You may find yourself questioning your previous beliefs; this is not a sign of weakness.

Keep stretching.

Trust the journey.

Sometimes you will feel you are moving a million miles a minute.

Other times you will feel you are barely moving a mile a minute and it feels as though you’re going nowhere

This is normal too.

Always be solution-oriented.

See the possibilities.

Leadership will open up opportunities for you to see what’s possible.

Your networks will help you identify solutions you may not have even seen.

Take risks.

Do not be afraid to explore ideas that may initially seem implausible/impossible…

or impassible.

Dedicate time to thinking through the process.

Identify the steps it would take to become a reality.

Make it happen!

There will be stumbles; look at these as learning blocks for success.

What did you discover along the way – About others? About yourself?

What do you still need to learn? How will you find it?

Build capacity.

Many times you will want to act like the top picture and need to act like the bottom one.

Look for enhanced perspective when others’ disagree.

Encourage others to shine.

Know when to speak and when to hold your tongue.

Sometimes it’s okay to remain quiet; this is a sign of strength.

Take good notes and give yourself time (and possibly a thought partner) to generate a response.

Give others space to share their thoughts as well.

Make good choices.

This will not always mean pleasing everyone; as a matter of fact, it will hardly ever mean this.

Consider the variables and stakeholders.

Always lead with students in mind, even if it’s not the most convenient decision for adults.

Celebrate the success of others.

Look for the positive all around you; notice what others are doing.

Make time to recognize others;

put the word “recognition” on your task list and make it a daily habit.

Parties – of every kind – are important for team morale.

This doesn’t have to be a plaque; it can be a quick connection in the hallway.

Remain involved.

Stay close to the classroom and involved with students whenever possible.

Keep the gap closed.

Don’t give someone a chance to say, “You forget what it is like in the classroom.”

Make time for reflection.

It’s okay to be alone.

Close your office or classroom door.

Turn off the lights.

Be quiet.

Be the bridge between teachers, administrators, and students.

You will get to see all their various perspectives.

Things that appear large from one side of the looking glass will appear much smaller from the other side.

Advocate for all of them.

Keep the goal in mind to guide you.

Don’t just know who you are – know where you’re going.

When you’re at a crossroads and don’t know which direction to go –

use students as your guide.

Your day should begin and end with kids; they will anchor you.

Where to begin?

The beginning is different for everyone…

Just start – or continue to grow – and keep going!

Teacher leadership is a special role.

Take the first step.

Be crazy.

The best of us are.

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