If you take a step back within the walls of your school, who is making the majority of the decisions?
Through connecting with other educators around the world, I often hear the stories of others in the world of leadership. When many answer the question above, the first answer I hear is usually “administrators and superintendents.” Others sometimes say “teacher leaders.” I rarely hear this response: “students.”
There are many schools around the globe that who are guiding authentic student voice for the decisions they make. But beyond this, I do believe that we have an underlying issue with how we define leadership.
Leadership is NOT:
-The role you have
-The years of experience you have in your position
-How many people are “below you” in your position
-A fancy name plate
If we look into how our schools are often run, we still have this traditional definition of what leadership is, and it defines everything we do.
In many cases, to become a school leader you need to meet a prerequisite of years even to be considered for a school administration experience. Although experience is important, why don’t we look at people for who they as individuals and what they bring to the table rather than following a set of parameters established before them?
When guidelines set everything we follow, it makes sense why teachers who speak to me from around the nation feel that they need to earn their leadership, even as a teacher.
If we have this mentality for our adults, chances are this can also be reflected in the way we treat students.
Do students walk into your school as leaders, or do they have to earn it? Leadership should not be viewed as a privilege for the few; it should be a right for us all.
As Todd Whitaker says, “The school should be changing more to fit the new teacher, not the other way around.”
We often expect kids, young teachers, and parents to adapt to us, rather than us learning from THEM.
Ralph Nader says, “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” I would like to challenge this; I believe that everyone is a leader, it is not something that we “produce.” If we do not see our own people as leaders, chances are we do not know their strengths. But, we can change this to create environments that help kids and teachers believe they matter.
How we define leadership is crucial. What does leadership mean to you and your kids?