2 April 2013

The Flight of Leadership in Education

There have been moments in life when I regarded leadership as a flight, a flight which set the trail for others to follow, new horizons, new accomplishments, fearless,  constructive, borderless. 

There are moments in life when romantic notions of youth need to mature.

Nevertheless, no matter what challenges lie in the educational field (and there are challenges in all fields of work and life), I still perceive education as a flight - a flight of learning, a flight of change, a flight of leading.  Yes, there are moments of failure, but if no failure, where is the learning? 

Leadership and failure - is there a link? In my mind, definitely. For failing is learning; acknowledging a moment of failure takes courage and courage is a trait of leadership. 

Let me share a poster on leadership - do these characteristics  belong only in the world of management and business?

One may not hold an administrative position in an educational institution nor consider oneself as a "leader", however educators are leaders. They lead thoughts and actions, they lead learning and open frontiers in minds. Educators hold the promise of inspiration in their classrooms. Learners may have colourful books and digital devices, but what good are they without an educator who does not lead them to use them for learning growth?

Trach (2013) shares her inner thoughts on educational leadership by saying that 

"Visceral and instinctive, it is a total way of being.  Leadership is about listening with your honed sense of emotional intelligence and responding selflessly"

A question of degrees, no doubt. Not every educator is a truly a leader - yet if one listens closely, there are more thought leaders among educators than there appears to be on the surface. 

I mentioned failure as a step in learning and how leaders are not afraid to speak up about those moments. Education is not  - and will never be - a smooth ride. There are too many individuals involved, from educational ministeries to institutional administrators to participants in classrooms. And let us not forget other stake holders, parents. Each and all will have different (and often clashing) visions of what a successful educational experience is. Among all the differences, there is bound to be moments of failure which need to be regarded as learning experiences. 

As a classroom participant, I too have had my moments of failure. Delivering content through digital media when in fact learners had not been previously prepared and expected more photocopies - the legitimate and "real" learning material. 

In classrooms of over 20 students there will be that moment of failure when a teacher is uncertain if a student is ill, tired or merely disconnected, not knowing the reasons and how to bring back that student because there are so many other students to attend to. 

Perfection is an illusion in education. And moments of failure need to be accepted. 

Godin (2013) expresses these moments of failure bluntly and clearly:

" Instead of cursing or fearing the down moments, understand that they mean you've chosen reality, not some unsustainable fantasy. It means that you're doing worthwhile, difficult work, not merely amusing yourself. 

The very thing you're seeking only exists because of the whole. We can't deny the difficult parts, we have no choice but to embrace them."

How do you embrace your moments of failure? 

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Godin, S. , 2013, Just the Good Parts
Trach, S., 2013, You Are Here