I want to start by saying I wrote this post prior to reading the Learn, Lead, and Innovate chapter in the book! My hope now is to continue with the innovative mindset as an innovative LEADER!
As I am reading Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros, he asks the question “Would I want to be a learner in my own classroom?” I found myself asking “Would I want to be a teacher who worked for THAT Leader?” When I decided to become a principal 10 years ago, I had a friend tell me to watch, listen, and learn from the leaders who I worked for while I was a teacher. I also listened, watched, and learned from my fellow teachers about their own expectations for a leader. In a few short years, I would be applying what I learned to my own leadership.
As I read not much further in the book, Couros begins talking about the characteristics of an innovator’s mindset. I started to reflect upon how principals must have an innovator’s mindset as leaders within their own school community. And then the question came, “Am I that Leader?” Do I have the 8 characteristics of a leader with an innovator’s mindset? Because I should…if I want my teachers to have an innovator’s mindset.
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Empathetic. Would I want to work for me? Each time I make a decision I should ask myself two questions: What does this effect our kids? How does this effect my teachers? It hasn’t been that long ago that I was in a classroom and felt the pressures of everything you had to teach with all the demands that come with the paperwork. From the beginning, I have built relationships with my teachers, so when they feel stressed they can come tell me. Then I act upon it! It may be a simple double planning time or an extra recess that I can cover. Anything to give them a quick opportunity to catch up on things while I get to spend time with the Kids!
Problem Finder/Solvers: Bottomline. Teachers are professionals. This year we have taken a new approach to professional learning. It has been teacher driven during PLCs. Teachers have developed the “look fors” during colleague observations that produce the highest student achievement.
Risk Takers: Create Opportunities. Give teachers a reason to want to take risks in their classrooms whether it be with implementing flexible seating or starting a classroom blog. Each teacher has their own unique teaching style, so I want to be able to provide them with the support and freedom to take the risks.
Networked: When we developed our “working agreements” or “how we will work together,” teachers wanted “Share Your Strengths and Ideas” as part of our agreement. Opportunities must be given for the teachers to share across grade levels to share with others what is working in their rooms and gain new ideas. This is why teacher observations and discussion time is so important!
Observant: Not just observations! Sit back listen and pay attention to what the teachers are saying, asking, and needing from you. Provide teachers with different avenues of social media to learn from others that our outside of our walls.
Creators: The biggest shift in a school culture is when teachers can go into another teacher’s room and take their new learning and integrate it into what they are already doing in their rooms. Give them opportunities even if it means you have to walk into the room and pick up the teaching so they can GO!
Resilient: Push Forward. I always resort back to the question…What is best for our kids?
Reflective: Including teachers in reflection is important in answering the questions…Did this work? What do parents think? What do the teachers think? Should we do this agin? How can we make it BETTER?