As I think about Chapter 7 today, I reflect (yes, I know it’s a key component in today’s classroom…model the way, right?) on the value I bring to my division. I see every teacher and student as a leader in the learning space that I direct. While I don’t have my hands in all decisions or conversations (and I wouldn’t want to), this “forced autonomy” provides great opportunity for individual empowerment. In other words, everyone pursuing whatever goal necessary to move forward (curriculum development, studying to prepare for an assessment, or building a project plan, for example) must navigate her or his own path. It is my job to make sure these individuals complete the work to the best of their ability. If I am pushing them a little further or celebrating the small wins, I am “empowering the machine” to run with zeal and positivity. Thus, the difference between well-executed leadership and simply “managing” remains in how I allow site-wide autonomy to develop.
It is my hope that all individuals working in my school carry the seeds of thoughtful, disruptive innovation. As for me, I plan doing the tiling along with more than a fair share of watering.
To truly be empowered, people need both ownership and autonomy. To move forward in education—to create a vision for education that then comes to life—we must take more than a top-down or bottom-up approach; we will need all hands on deck.
–The Innovator’s Mindset, Chapter 7
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