Challenging the Status Quo

A couple of weeks ago I finished Tribes by Seth Godin.  The short, but inspiring, book on leadership had me reflecting on my leadership style and wondering how can I improve as a leader?  Based on the book, I asked myself the following questions:

  • How do I respectfully challenge the status quo in my school?
  • Do I not challenge the status quo if I anticipate personal criticism as a response to my questions?
  • Do I model a willingness to try something new and if I fail, admit it and learn something from it?
I am not sure about you but I have the most difficulty with the second question.  When I first became a vice principal I was the youngest member of the school staff.  The conversations about the learning in the school were, at times, difficult for me.  My second school is rich in fine arts and I had some knowledge in this area but definitely felt out of place in these curricular areas.  After thinking about my experiences at my first school, I used the following strategies when I entered my second school:
  • Made myself visible in all classrooms
  • Focused on building relationships first
  • Asked students to tell me about their learning
  • Asked students to explain their fine art to me
  • Moved slowly and tried to make small steps forward

While these strategies may seem like common sense, it was not easy.  Having to worry about the day to day management of the school always took away the time that I wanted to spend on leadership.  While I embrace the vice principal job, I am sure that I will always struggle with the management-leadership balance.

Moving slowly and asking questions created some fantastic conversations with teachers.  I was very happy when one of our teachers approached me about improving her leadership skills.  She wasn’t looking to become a vice principal but was wanting to improve as a leader in her class and as a leader in the school. The same day that she asked me for any books that may help her out was the same day that I brought Tribes to school.  Coincidence, I am not sure, opportunity, definitely.

I am looking forward to future conversations.

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One thought on “Challenging the Status Quo

  1. Hey Bryan – pumped you have started blogging! I love your 3rd question as this is something that I see as so important in modeling to students and staff. Every decision we make, whether successful or not, moves us forward if we learn from it. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

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