I love what @Leadershipfreak writes on a regular basis.  His leadership insight is that cannot be matched and is perfect for any industry, especially education.


This below is taken from his website.  Vision is important for any leader.  Without vision, execution is a hallucination.  It is extremely important for educational leaders to have a clear vision.  I believe that many schools have leaders that have execution but lack the vision.  So essentially things get done but with no large goal in mind.  So, how do those leaders ever know when they have broken through a barrier and accomplished something?  Are those schools just aimlessly doing the day by day hoping that they are doing right by the children that are in their halls?

If you ever feel that you are just doing the day-by-day and not making any headway to achieving a goal, what vision have you laid out for yourself lately?  Always remember that work without vision is drudgery.  Vision without work is just dreaming.  But when you combine work with a vision you will achieve your destiny.

The Seven Qualities of Visionary Leaders | Leadership Freak:
Vision:
  • Creates vitality.
  • Focuses energy.
  • Explains purpose.

Apart from clear vision:
  • Distraction directs.
  • Desperation disrupts.
  • Despair discourages.
Seven qualities of visionary leaders:
  1. Optimistic about the future.  
  2. Focused on the best in their people. They focus on the unique strengths of every employee.
  3. Never satisfied but always content. They seem happy where they are but refuse to stay there.
  4. Consumed with making tomorrow better than today. Hopeful leaders never settle.
  5. Accepting of change.
  6. Inclusive, not exclusive. Hopeful leaders invite others into their vision.
  7. Personally bought in. Vision is inside them.”

Three Qualities Traditional Leaders Reject | Leadership Freak:

Emptiness is opportunity.

The downside of curiosity:

  1. People want to know what you know as well as what you don’t.
  2. Questions feel pushy and threatening when filled with expectation.
  3. Constant curiosity spirals inward and downward.
  4. Creating options causes confusion.

The Myth of the Super Teacher on Vimeo

Roxanna Elden is a great speaker.  The message that she sends forth in this video is stellar.  I have not read her book as of yet but I intend to.  She is 100% correct when she says that all teachers need honesty, humor, and practical advice.  The only problem I see is that a lot of leaders forget that teachers need this and that they view us as lazy if we are not getting 3 hours of sleep a night in order to create that amazing lesson plan.  We are human.  Nobody works with teenagers on 3 hours of sleep.  Did you before becoming an administrator?

Here is a touching story that is good for everyone to remember:

The Mayonnaise Jar

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.
When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and fills it with golf balls.
He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.
He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous “YES”.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things - God, family,
children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things, that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else -- the small stuff.” he said.
“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are
important to you...” he told them.
“So... pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Worship with your family. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. Spend time with good friends. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap. Take care of the golf balls first -- the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled and said, “I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”

Many administrators have forgotten this over the years of not being in the classroom.  They have forgotten this story for their teachers, but they have not forgotten this for themselves.  Most want us to fill the jar with the sand first and they call us lazy when we don't.  We are all people, not robots.  It is important to remember that we all have lives outside of those walls, including students, and sometimes situations take place that impacts what goes on in those walls.

This year our superintendent in his opening address wanted to work with various positions around the district as a way to stay connected on what we do day in and day out with children.  This was a huge inspiration for me as a teacher.  Here is someone who quite frankly has a very busy schedule and wants to come in and work with teachers, secretaries, custodians, and bus drivers for a day to get a sense of the "trenches".  This is a leader.  Not many superintendents would be able to invest, not sacrifice, the much needed time in order to do get the first hand view of the classroom after so many year being out.

In my talks that I have had with many people I have worked with over the years, many of stressed upon me that whenever I do step into that position of administration, to not lose sight of what it is like in the classroom.  My intention is to always keep that very close to my heart.  The true battle ground is the classroom, not the office.

We put a great deal of emphasis on that our schools are failing and that our kids are not learning in schools today. It is true, the American education system is in a triage situation and needs to have attention placed the critical needs. Many parents and teachers are concerned with the fact that students are failing classes, even I am. But take a moment and look at what failing truly is. Does a child learn something by failing? In my opinion, they do. They learn how not to accomplish something. Failing does not mean unsuccessful, but we place great emphasis on the fact that failing is unacceptable. Let's take a look at some famous failures.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Failure! 
At 30 years old, Steve Jobs was forced to leave the company he build from the ground up. Failure! 
Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he lacked "imagination" and "original ideas". Failure! 
Oprah Winfery was demoted from being a news anchor because she was "not fit enough for television". Failure! 
Albert Einstein could not speak until the age of 4 and teachers told him that he would not amount to much in life. Failure!


It is important for us as educators to let every student know that failure is just a rehearsal for success.  Kids are worried about failing, and they should be, but when they do, and they will, they need to know that they are not failures as a person.

Traditional testing has become very degrading to those students who see a number that is not considered passing.  But those same students could go out and fix my truck without much hesitation and go to work as a mechanic and make twice what I do.  So which one is the failure, the student who has volumes more knowledge than I about mechanics of machines or me, the guys with two college degrees, two masters degrees, and an almost completed Ed.S?

This reminds me of a Big Bang Theory episode where all four guys were driving and something happened to Leonard's car.  He asked, " Does anyone here know anything about the internal combustion engine?"  Every one of them said, "Yes, tons."  "Does anyone here know how to work on the internal combustion engine?"  Their reply, "Absolutely not!"  That was three guys who all had terminal degrees and Wolowitz of course (BBT fans will know why that is funny) who had immense knowledge of many things in this world but could not even fix their car.  Are they failures?  I would say at that moment for that circumstance they were.  Again, being a failure at some things is not bad.  Failure is just a rehearsal for success.  I fail regularly at taking out the trash and helping with the laundry, just ask my wife.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

This is so true.  Lately, I have been spending some time thinking about character and how that is applied in schools today.  I know of a teacher who speaks in a manner that is so unprofessional to their colleagues, students, and even parents.  I have during my career specifically heard this teacher say to a student "You are dead to me."  Even if you dislike the person, who makes it known in their professional career?  And on top of that who says that to a student?  How did this person even get a position in our classrooms?  Character is a big part here.  We are role models for students and if they see this then they think it is okay as well.  Do we want a society filled with degrading people?  If you have a good report with a student then making jabs back-and-forth does take place, but both parties know the other is kidding around and that they know where the line is drawn.

I make sure that when I am joking with students they know that I respect them, that we are not friends, and that there is a line and neither of us should cross it.