Three years ago, I created a Twitter account, well actually I was forced into it signing up. A colleague asked me if I followed a certain educator on Twitter and I said “not another social media account that I have to maintain!” But once I started tweeting and following others, I was hooked. There is a no shortage of passionate educators sharing incredible ideas on Twitter.
One such person, Emily Clare, reached out to me and asked if I would consider being interviewed for a podcast as a female leader in education. You can only imagine my excitement, but also my trepidation. After all, I am just a teacher, not a leader, and that’s exactly what I told her. Emily reassured me that my work is what makes me a leader, not a title. I was not expecting that podcast would set me on a path to recognize my inner leader and go on to do some amazing things to elevate the teaching profession and change education ideology through my work. Leadership qualities can be found in each and every one of us. Once you discover the leader in you, you owe it to the world to share your gift. Here are 5 simple actions you can do to embrace the leader within:
Surround Yourself with Other Passionate Educators.
Some educators are lucky enough to work alongside of other incredible educators, but many are not. If you find your education community lacking, build a Professional Learning Network (PLN) using social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Periscope, and Voxer, just to name a few. Find what works for you. You will be amazed at the relationships you forge with others through a PLN.
Lead by Example.
Don’t wait to be formally invited to engage in leadership opportunities. Get involved in your school. Volunteer for committees, attend events, participate in activities, join school-wide and community initiatives. Look into EdCamps and conferences and see where you can attend or potentially speak. Write about your experiences and submit to them educational journals. Subscribe to education publications and keep current on the pressing issues surrounding education.
Join regional or national education groups that elevate educators. Almost every state has an education association that is affiliated with a national education association. Become an active member and stay up-to-date with the many issues in education today. Advocate for the best interest of students and teachers to whomever will listen, many of these associations will provide you with the assets you need to do so.
They say that the first step of achieving any goal is showing up. Attendance in events and activities show others that you care. Your participation in meetings that make policy is critical for change. Your voice cannot be heard if you are absent. Leaders show up and make their voice heard.
Know that you will not make everyone happy. Great leaders know that the decisions they make may may not be popular, but they look past it and do what’s right. Stand firmly on your belief of what’s best for the students, the school, and the district. People may not like the decision, but they will admire your commitment to the profession. Part of being a great leader is having those difficult conversations. Remember to respect one another’s voice and opinion, but always follow your true North— “what’s in the best interest of the student?”
Here’s what I know: Having a title doesn’t make you a leader — your actions do. People follow people that they admire – regardless of the title. Most educators are natural born leaders that use their leadership skills in many different ways. Some follow the path of becoming school leaders in various administrative roles, while others remain in the classroom and utilize their leadership skills with extra-curricular activities, coaching, leading professional development, or being part of school committees. However you choose to let the leader in you emerge is awesome. Embrace the opportunity to lead—you are changing the world!
Michele Hill is in her 24th year as an educator, student first, curriculum second. Michele is a national presenter and author of educational topics appearing in ASCD InService, ASCD Educational Leadership, MCGraw-Hill The Art of Teaching and NASSP Principal Leadership. You can follow Michele on twitter @HillMrispo or spiritededucator.blogspot.com