By Tisha Shipley
As teacher professionals, we are all leaders in some capacity. It is important as leaders that we show others how to be their best selves. We need to model for others and support choices and decisions. We must also build reciprocal relationships with the faculty, staff, and families we work with. I have been in several leadership positions, from cheer sponsor to principal to director of a program at the university level to coordinator of an early childhood program to, most recently, chair of an early childhood program. Being a leader usually consists of more stressful situations, a larger workload, and guiding others that look to you as someone that has a little power in decision making. Whether these are all true or not, you have the ability to be a leader that influences others in a positive and supportive way. These are things I have learned over the last 15 years of being a leader and being lead.
Things That Strong Leaders Should Do:
- Self-reflect—what can you keep doing that is working? What can you change or do better?
- Listen to others and what they have to say—sometimes this is all it takes.
- Build reciprocal relationships and have an open-door policy.
- Truly care—you are a leader of a team of people that want you to care about them as individuals.
- Share about yourself, and show that you are a real person with life stories to share.
- Be present—move from one issue/project/discussion to the next, but give each your full attention.
- Support and model—let people know you are there, and model how to do things the correct way.
- Participate in and lead collaboration.
- Be a colearner—volunteer to sit in on a committee as a member; voice your opinion and value other’s input.
- Start initiatives that can have a positive effect on the people you are leading.
- Put together relevant teambuilding opportunities and professional development.
- Ask questions—find out what people like and what they want or believe in; you may learn something new.
- Advocate for your team and their ideas.
- Know your role—do you know the laws, policies, and governing body you are to be following?
- Take over other roles (e.g., bathroom duty, lunch duty, crosswalk duty).
- Build a positivity community—have luncheons, write positive notes to individual team members, and give a “thank you” once in a while.
- Provide resources—ensure that your team members have what they need to do their jobs.
- Know names and faces—everyone wants to be important to you; call people by name (this includes staff, teachers, families, and students).
- Welcome everyone at the front door—be the first one there, shake hands, and welcome everyone to a new day.
- Be yourself. Be professional. Love what you do. Believe what you do makes a difference.
Along with being a leader, I have also been someone that has been led by great leaders. I have learned many things from those great leaders that I now use. I challenge you to choose some of the ideas from the list and try them. There are more than 20 important things you will do as a leader, but these are some for you start trying today.
For more leadership resources, log onto ASCD’s website.
Tisha Shipley is an online instructor who presents at early childhood conferences and helps teachers in their classrooms. She has taught multiple grade levels at Moore Public Schools, including preK and gifted 3rd through 6th grade, and served as a cheer sponsor and a principal. Most recently, Shipley served as director of preschool programs at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. She received a doctorate of education in curriculum and instruction from Northcentral University and a master’s degree in elementary education/administration and a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Northwestern Oklahoma State University. Connect with Shipley on Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and her website.