Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Take Risks, Learn From Mistakes, and Always Think Big Picture

If you have read this blog before you might have ascertained that I am a presidential history buff. I believe that there are a lot of good and bad examples of leadership in American Presidential history to from and I am a history teacher at my core. So naturally, parallels to the Commander and Chief are a reoccurring theme in my reflective process. But there are a few things that I think teachers and school leaders can learn from our greatest heroes. As long as we all start with the understanding that humans are flawed and Lord knows so are presidents, we should be fine in drawing comparisons.

Take Risks
There have been Presidents in our history who have not wanted to risk anything for the greater good of the country. Those presidents usually only serve one term and are often considered "lame ducks." 
As educators we should be confident enough I our talent, values, and goals to take a leap of faith. If we never take risks, our rate of progression will slow down. The best teachers have completely bombed lessons on more than one occasion and have lived to tell the tale. Mediocre teachers stay the same without ever moving past their comfort zone.
Abraham Lincoln assembled a cabinet of the very men who rivaled him in pursuit of the presidency. This was a major risk, but he knew it was best for the country. And as you know, aside from a few glitches, his risky appointments paid off.

Learn From Mistakes
When called into leadership, mistakes should be anticipated. I believe one of the most essential characteristics of strong leadership is not being afraid of mistakes. However, mistakes are a tool for improvement. The same mistake cannot be made repeatedly in the pursuit of greatness.
John F Kennedy is one of the more complex presidents to examine having been assassinated early in his presidency. However, there are two distinct events that shaped his presidency: The Bay of Pigs Invasion and The Cuban Missile Crisis. In one of these JFK was embarrassed but in the latter he was viewed as a savior. JFK learns from the Bay of Pigs to assert his strength rather than tip toe around what is facing him.
As School Leaders we must always learn to improve. Our students will see that, recognize it is human, and respect us for adjusting. There is no room for egos, pride, or stubbornness as we aim to provide top notch education to our students. Each week, each month, each semester and each year we should adjust to fix our mistakes.

Always Think Big Picture
When trying to accomplish major change, naysayers will always  let themselves be heard. Negative energy enjoys company and those who live in that space will try and keep you there. It is important to stay the course with the greater good in mind.
George Washington (you may have heard of him) was given the keys to the country. Early Americans were ready to make him leader till death. In fact, he was reluctant to take the job but his colleagues wouldn't take no for an answer and Washington knew it was best for his country. Against popular approval, Washington only stayed in office two terms(setting a precedent) and asked only to be called Mr. President (rather than your highness as some had proposed). Many felt that Washington should have taken more authority while others argued he should have taken less. However Washington acted in the bet interest of the country rather than being swayed by naysayers.
We as teachers and leaders must always be acting for the greater good of our students. Sorry to say but that takes precedence over all else. Some things we do may not always be popular but if we can go home and tell ourselves that everything you are doing is best for kids, there can be no argument against it.
We as educators must live these characteristics. Just like presidents, we come into our position with different life experiences, political views, and personalities but we act in the interest of our students above all else. Just like the presidents it is not an easy job but that is why we are called to be great. Have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year. Leading is Teaching.

1 comment:

  1. Leaders make errors, for sure. Ideally we grow, improve, and keep pushing forward. Good work- never let naysayers beat you down!