For the past few years, I have watched my students interact for the first few weeks of school, looking for the creative thinkers and quiet nurturers. Then I've appointed CEOs who articulate a vision for their team, draft its members and set about solving a design problem. As my student CEOs grow as leaders, they learn to listen and guide rather than direct and demand; they learn to consciously create an environment of collaboration. New leaders emerge as team members learn how to trust and respect one another, how to voice frustration, how to seek help when they need it, how to take responsibility for tasks and share their discoveries, how to accept and work with others’ ideas. Leadership grows through figuring out what it means to work together towards a common goal.
Watching these young learners, I've learned a lot about leadership: that it means listening and empathizing, nudging kindly, sharing transparently, making time to play, create, reflect, and think, taking risks and working through mistakes, evolving and articulating vision.
How have I served as a leader? I've designed curricula and instruction, overseen academic programs, led faculty and departments. I've guided others towards and through change. I've coached teams of teachers re-thinking programs, and I've trained new teachers in new approaches to education. I've developed innovative professional development programs. I've shared my own learning at conferences and encouraged colleagues to share theirs. I've fearlessly modeled innovation and held the hands of the timid first-timers. I've listened, advised, and, I hope, inspired.
My vision of educational leadership seeks to unleash the creativity in teachers to build a bridge to the future. Whether I am modeling an innovative mindset, collaborating on designing new curricula for our global world, or creating experiences that promote deeper learning, I believe in the importance of making space for creativity and play, of employing empathy to understand the human interactions that make connection possible, and developing habits of reflection towards deeper understanding and growth.
Leadership in Action
I highlight below some of the recent leadership initiatives that have grown from my various roles in education.
- Presented at national and local conferences on the future of education, using social media, employing design teams, the need for student choice, blogging as writing curricula, and creating an interdisciplinary sustainability program.
- Designed workshops on creativity modeled on "genisu hour" programs and game-hacking.
- Collaborated with 7th-grade team and interdisciplinary colleagues to develop sustainability programs in conjunction with reading Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma (Young Readers Edition).
- Designed and implemented Culminating Senior Project and Control-Alt-Delete programs using "Genius Hour" model.
- Introduced "Dare to Fail" Creativity Week to traditional academic calendar.
Coaching Colleagues as Teacher-Leader
- Encouraged and coached colleagues as first-time presenters at national conferences.
- Collaborated to re-design 7th-grade English curriculum to include nonfiction and contemporary works.
- Introduced design teams to existing programs.
- Promoted student choice through reading circles and independent projects.
- Modeled regular reflection as student assessment.