How Do You “Lead?” Unpacking My #OneWordX12 For July.

Inspired by Beth Lyons, I’ve decided to set a one word goal each month. Last month, “breathe” seemed like a good word, as some uncertainty on if our Board would be making one more pivot and returning in-person before June 29th, made a few extra breaths a necessity. We did remain online, but with the stress that comes from the end of the school year, I did find myself breathing a little bit deeper and even looking for an extra book or two to read as a way to escape and feel some much-needed calm. Self-Reg was certainly at play when it came to last month’s goal. Now what about this month? I contemplated a few words, but a couple of recent experiences had me landing on my new one: lead.

This summer, as I’ve done for the past four summers, I’ll be one of the Summer Curriculum and Site Support Teachers for Camp Power. This will be our second year running this program virtually, alongside a few other programs that will be offered through the Board. This year will be different.

  • We’ll have some new staff members along with some returning ones.
  • We’ll have some new Lead Teachers along with a few returning ones.
  • We’ll have some new opportunities for staff, which come more easily thanks to a greater understanding of our virtual platform: Microsoft Teams.
  • We’ll have a different level of engagement and comfort with a virtual camp program, stemming from the time that we spent on MS Teams this past school year.

With all of this in mind, leading this year is also going to be different.

  • How do we share leadership opportunities among the Site Leads as well as among the camp administrators and the instructors? What does leadership look and sound like in this model?
  • What do we do when our viewpoints vary? How do we hear different perspectives while also raising new possibilities?
  • How do we get staff more involved in the trainings? What does a constructivist approach to professional development look like?
  • How do we support and model risk-taking? How might this risk-taking vary for each of us as well as for each of the instructors and camp administrators?
  • How do we build relationships with each other and with our campers? How do we ensure that we give enough time to develop these relationships and increase comfort among staff and among families?

I’m not sure that I know the answers to any of these questions, but I know that I’ll be referring back to them often in the coming weeks as we continue to plan for camp and begin staff training.

As I’ve been contemplating these questions and this one word, I got an email from the Board. A principal that I know well and that I’ve worked with before, was just promoted. Since I’m unsure if this news is public knowledge yet, I won’t divulge his name here. I will say that he’s an outstanding leader, who has a special way of listening, making tough decisions, and engaging in important conversations … sometimes in isolation, and other times, repeatedly, to help shift practice and inspire growth. Looking to the month ahead and to my focus on leading, I think that I’ll be asking myself often, “What would [Name] do? What would he say? Is this something to address now or is it better to wait? Do we need more time? Is there something that we’re not seeing here that might be worth exploring first?” This principal has taught me, and continues to teach me, that change takes time.

  • Sometimes you have to go at it alone … at least at first. Being the lone wolf is worth it if the change matters enough.
  • Kids are always worth fighting for. Constantly reminding ourselves that we are in it for the kids has value in and outside of leadership.
  • Think about the pedagogy behind change. If we can’t link pedagogy and practice, should we be reconsidering our practice?
  • Live what you preach. Thinking about our summer program, what are we asking from staff, and how are we showing staff that we’re asking something comparable from ourselves?
  • Often times “showing” is far more powerful than “telling.” How do we make this showing happen and inspire change through what we show?
  • Stories matter. Share your school stories, your personal stories, your stories of struggle, and your stories of success. Invite others to share theirs. Storytelling is an important part of leadership and of change.

I’m grateful to have had this leadership role model, who I know will be continuing to inspire me, even in a new position and even from afar.

All year long, I come to work happy in my position working alongside Paula and teaching our fabulous group of kindergarten students. In the summer though, I appreciate a new challenge and I love that our Board supports this teacher leadership. How might July change me as a leader, and what impact will these changes have on me when I return to the classroom in September? I’m grateful to work alongside wonderful leaders, who I know will inspire and support me this summer. I’m also grateful for other leaders in our Board, such as the principal that I mentioned, who will surely make me wonder and grow from all that they’ve taught me in the past and continue to teach me now. Here’s to a month of leading and learning.


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