After almost a decade of teaching I elected to spend three years studying educational leadership at the doctoral level through the Carnegie Project. I had inspiring professors (shout out to Dr. Valerie Storey and Dr. William Leary among others) who pushed me out of my learning comfort zone and enabled me to stretch my understanding of leadership. Where once I understood leadership within a managerial context, they expanded my understanding and developed my desire to someday become a transformational leader in education.
Through the program I developed a idealized vision of educational leadership based on a foundation of truth, ethics, equity, social justice, and morality. I wanted to make a difference in the world, impact young adults, support teachers, build efficacy within the educational system, give every student and every teacher the opportunity to succeed.
A good leader is transparent, honest, ethical, and moral. Great leaders are all of these things and serve as mentors to develop future leaders. Great leaders do not play favorites or hold biases based on race, ethnicity, or gender. They should serve and nurture their followers so that the institution becomes stronger by developing and building talent within.
How does a leader serve and nurture their organization? By emphasizing transparency over opaqueness, listening and given credence to stakeholders, enabling individuals to reach for leadership, providing honest and constructive feedback, believing in the ability and capability of individuals within the organization and by giving and offering trust.
Leaders are so crucial to the success and achievement of an educational institution, they set the rudder for a ship that has many sailors and often finds itself in rough seas, without someone to identify the right direction, it will founder as sailors lose faith and jump. Teachers may leave or worse, they may stay but be absent in spirit - neither will serve the institution well.
While my own leadership role is small, I strive to offer transparency by being honest and upfront with my faculty. I am determined to be clear in my expectations and valiant in my support to help teachers meet those expectations. I want to inspire others to consider taking on leadership as a mechanism to provide students with an outstanding educational experience while satisfying their own professional growth needs. I hope to inspire other teachers to take on the most difficult of tasks - reaching every student in their classroom and mostly I pray to never be the reason a teacher gives up on teaching.
So share with me - what characteristics do you look for in a leader?
Kerryane Monahan is a forever student, teacher of teachers, adventure-obsessed science educator who writes about science, education, leadership, teacher problems, student problems, curriculum, successes and anything else that skitters through her brain.