Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Could I Lead? #SAVMP

(Photo by Richard Shaw)

When I saw the #SAVMP description I thought, "That is amazing, I wish I could be a part of this!"  Getting connected with teachers using social media has been the highlight of my summer, and I was extremely jealous of all the administrators that would get a chance to "organize" around the principles of mentoring and connecting.  

Always looking to stretch the limits, I signed-up even though I am not an administrator.

I have spent the last year trying to figure out my place in education.  I am a teacher, but I have been involved in a number of different projects allowed me to expand professional roles. I worked with the non-profit Digital Harbor Foundation, working hard to be a digital leader and take innovative risks in my classroom.  This allowed me to see myself in leadership roles such as organizing professional development and influencing the practice of other teachers.  I also started mentoring student teachers and found this to be extremely rewarding and really stretched me to become a better teacher in so many ways.

I have always said that I would never become an administrator.  As I read so many blogs from #SAVMP mentors and mentees about why they lead, I keep seeing mentions and tributes to the leaders that have come before them- the influencers, the outstanding mentors that inspired them to do more and lead the way for others.

Early in my career I was so afraid of administrators and people in leadership.  This probably stemmed from my first interview ever as a teacher.  Nervous and unsure, at 22 years old and one month out of college, I arrived to my interview early, with my high heels and a smile. 

When the principal came out of his office, I stood and introduced myself.  He did not hold out his hand to shake mine, and in fact took a step back.  He frowned and said, "You could never teach here.  You are too young and way too small." He turned around, walked back into his office, and shut his door.

As ridiculous as this was, I would find that the sentiments of principals during my next few interviews would be strikingly similar. I went on to have an array of experiences with my administrators, ranging from disengaged to intimidating, some all together frightening in their approach to leadership. 

Until I started working at Patterson Park Public Charter School, I had never gotten the chance to work in a school community that believed in shared leadership and encouraged, even fostered, all staff to be leaders. PPPCS has amazing leadership, and equally as important, a strong community among the staff.  Everyone looks out for one another, there is shared support, and everyone's strengths are valued.  

This is where I learned what true leadership could be like, when a community forms around a common goal, and the leader is not as important as the communal effort.  For our team, it is about supporting everyone to ensure our students get the best our school can offer them.

I joined #SAVMP because I am at a crossroads.  I love teaching and being in the classroom, but I am starting to gain the courage to think that there may be a place for me outside of that space. The reality is that I want to lead for the same reasons I want to teach.  With my students, I lead them to discovery, understanding, and growth. I would want to lead for those same exact goals.  Rather than why do I lead, often I am thinking could I lead?

So while I figure this out, I am here as a mentee, in the most green form.  I hope to discover, gain new understandings, and grow.  The most exciting part is that there are so many people in this community that have been in the place that I stand, trying to figure out their direction and path.  Lucky for me, I don't have to do it alone.  

And hopefully, in the process, I can add something of value to the experiences of others.


  1. Quite honestly your post tells me you already do lead- so yes I believe that you can and do lead already! There are many kinds of leadership and just because one has a title of administrator, certainly no longer, and nor should it be, that you are the only leader in the school. Many people, and students have the skills, capacity and interest to show leadership and you are one who demonstrates this leadership in your work and learning.
    In our school our Mission is beLEADers! And that is for all who walk the halls of Milverton Public School- staff, students, parents and community.
    YES you can LEAD:). Best of luck on your journey and glad you are in #savmp

    1. Thanks Denise. I have seen so many different leaders, which inspires me to continue to identify what my role is both in my school, with students, and in my district. You are so right, everyone is a leader!

  2. That was a terrifying first exposure to administration, fortunately, those types of admin are few as they retire(thankfully). During my second teaching practicum I was taking a student down to the office and saw the principal walking towards us in the hall. As soon as he looked up and saw me and the student, he stopped and turned around, leaving me to deal with the disgruntle student alone as no one was in the office either. Thankfully not all admin are of the "top down" nature, most actually value the students and teachers in the school.

    1. Thank you for your support! I think we all have those stories about admin that did qualify as "leaders." I am so grateful to have such a range of experiences. Knowing what good leadership is NOT can be valuable in understanding what it truly can be.

      Looking forward to learning lots from you :)

  3. I too ask myself a similar question, can I lead? Many times it's simply because of the insecurities I have of myself. Then the reassurance comes when I see the positive changes I've been a part of.

  4. This is an amazing reflection! Thanks for not giving up after that first interview experience! I'm sure your students thank you, too! Glad to be learning with you through SAVMP!