Developing Learning Leaders at ALL Levels

There has been a growing and much needed focus on skills students need to be prepared for the world they live in and the world they will lead in.   

In personalized learning classrooms, students are setting goals that include how they will leverage their skill strengths and how they will work on growing the skills that are not as dominate.  Teachers and students openly discuss student grouping options to ensure that when a team of students is formed, they are well balanced. They understand what each group member brings to the project and how they will contribute for distributed leadership.  

I have to pause here because I feel the overwhelming need to explain that this is a MUCH different approach than I used early in my career, when I would assign students a role or students would pick a task card to see what their “job” was for the day.  The groups that I am talking about are truly built on students leveraging the best of every one for the good of the group.  What is even more impressive is the openness and level of trust that I see in classrooms where this is common practice.  Students openly share when things will be difficult and set goals to overcome those obstacles.  They work together to support each other and realize that “they are better together.”

As I was thinking about the teamwork and skill-focused acquisition that is occurring in the classroom, it inspired me to start looking for answers to how this looks at the various learner levels. After all, aren’t we all learners?  

What skills do district leader learners, school leader learners (principals and learning coaches), classroom leader learners (teachers) and future leader learners (students) need to support the work of all other leader learners?  I keep coming back to the research in School Leadership that Works: From Research to Results (2005) where the authors list 21 leadership responsibilities that, if capitalized on, show correlation to positive impact on student achievement.

After reflection and talking with others, I am beginning to look at these “responsibilities” through a new lens, the lens of opportunities rather than responsibilities.  Districts, schools, classrooms and students should not be working on independent levels to acquire skills.  They should be interconnected learners supporting and building up those around them and the other levels they support.  

Sounds great right, but how do I start?  The answer is – self reflection and team building! Start with these steps in mind.

  1. Every level of leadership should begin by identifying the skills they need to support the vision of the organization and the work of the next level of leaders.
  2. Members engage in self reflections to identify their strengths in each skill area and openly share what they can currently offer to the team.
  3. Teams set goals leveraging each of their skills to support the work of the next level on their pathway to the vision.

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