The Optical Illusion of Leadership

There are so many articles, blog posts, books, videos, and tweets about what makes a school "good." Right now I am reading a book about deliberate leadership choices being the catalyst for change, which was picked by leadership in my new school. While it is an interesting read, I believe in my core that an environment where educators are given the freedom and trust to be leaders is where true change happens.

One of the reasons for the big move this summer was the chance of being a leader. Some already labeled me a leader and others showed their confidence in me when I was voted in as MSET's next president (for which I am still grateful and humble). It was a problem when those opportunities don't happen in my day job. I knew I was not alone when I expressed my frustration when administration ignored my ability and willingness to help.

It has already been stated on this blog, a title does not make a leader. So while I am technically an Instructional Lead Teacher, it has been hard work to make the title a reality. It started with jumping into the school's current plans and volunteering help when possible. As I felt more comfortable, the next step was to express my viewpoint in hopes of change for the better. Still in progress is gaining teachers' trust, because without that I won't be able to support them. As usual I am too impatient and want to be further ahead, but feel like time spent on a solid foundation will pay off in the long term.

What I have to be careful about is not to fall for the optical illusion of leadership. My definition of this term is when teachers are trusted with "special tasks" set by the administration. It is a form of power in the school environment, it can feel great to be needed in that way, but it is not leadership. All of decisions still lie with admin and it can even cause conflict with the staff. It forces the teacher to play by the rules to maintain this status, rather than having the ability to change the game.

I am eager to working towards real leadership without using my admin certification to become an assistant principal or principal.