Thursday, May 22, 2014

Leadership Traits Part 1

leadership In Welcoming New Leaders in Education from Actualization, Walter McKenzie talks about some leadership traits. He asks,

“How do these leadership traits resonate with you?”

I want to talk about how I feel about these traits over 5 different posts (so I don’t bore any of you too much in one post!)

Here is part 1 of 5 where I will share my thoughts of specific traits that he listed.

“Value-centric seeking meaningful connections and relevant work

Empowered breaking free of traditional constraints using digital tools

Inclusive welcoming people, ideas and resources that help build their capacity”


Whether I work with children or adults, without showing meaningful connections and making my information relevant, my information becomes useless. My audience will tune me out and their eyes will glaze over. I’m sure their thoughts will be thinking of things that they feel are relevant to them. It is important that I constantly refer to this idea as I plan my lessons and make sure that I can see clearly that what I’m sharing is connected and relevant. If it isn’t, it is time to start over. In the same way, I need to help my students see that when they share things, they need to do the same thing. The best way that I can teach this is by modeling this with my own behavior. When I want to teach my students to do the same thing, I will have real life examples to use from my own teaching.


I learned that with one of my toughest students. This student challenged me more than others because I couldn’t find the key to helping him be successful. His “failures” were becoming MY failures. Then I had an “aha” moment. I realized that I needed to stop trying to change his behavior, which I had no control over. I needed to change my own behavior. I needed to stop trying to teach him using traditional ways. I wanted to use the strategies that “have always been used” but they just weren’t working with him. When I allowed myself to look at digital tools that were available and had him work with different ones, we finally found ones that helped him be successful. Not only did he become successful in my class, but he also became successful in others that he struggled with. Suddenly he became empowered and was able to control his own learning. But I had to be willing to step back and give up some of my control so that he could learn to have his own control.


I constantly explain to students, parents, and even other teachers, that we are all on the same team and that we are all equal partners. No one team mate is better than any other but as a team together we can do wonders. Each team mate needs to be able to give input without fear of ridicule or being ignored. Many students know what they need but fear sharing this information because their opinions have been pushed aside too many times. Many parents don’t give input because they don’t feel they are as knowledgeable as the school personnel. These parents spend more time with their children than teachers do and can have a lot of insight to what motivates the student. Many teachers don’t listen to the students or their parents because they feel they are the “experts.” This can be shown through their tone of voice or even their body language. I call parents regularly, ask them to call me by my first name, and even give them my home phone number but I ask that they call after 7am and before 9pm. (Yes, I’ve always done that and in 30 years only had 2 parents abuse this.)

How do you feel about these traits? Do you agree or disagree? Please share.

Image: 'Transformational Leadership'
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