Sharing the Lead: Creating a Climate of Excellence Michele Atkins, Ph.D. Kenneth Newman, Ed.D. Ann Singleton, Ed.D. Union University The Academic Leader… • • • • • Has no agenda except to facilitate. Is enthusiastic about all students and teachers. Has an open-minded management style. Is transparent in decision making. Represents the school well to higher administration and to colleagues. • Provides constructive feedback. • Is politically astute. PKAL Summer Institute Newsletter (2002, June). Characteristics of the Ideal Academic Department The Myth of Effective Leadership • There is a myth that an organization can find salvation through efficient management. • Thus, the model of leadership is one of omnicompetence: the skilled classroom practitioner plus curriculum leader, plus technical expert, plus all the manifestations associated with being the figurehead. • It is no wonder that so many leaders in education seek early retirement or suffer a range of work-related illnesses. Being a successful school leader is not about controlling your faculty. Most schools are essentially archaic, resembling bureaucracies that lack flexibility and adaptability (WestBurnham, 1997). But the world is complex and chaotic and we must adapt. Likewise, the children and adults that enter our schools are complex and we must learn to be flexible and adapt to their needs. Effective Academic Leaders are… • Committed and enthusiastic • Competent • Possess self-knowledge • Authentic These characteristics become interrelated. When we are not empathic leaders, others around us stop being authentic, stop bringing talent and energy into the workplace, and stop using feelings to support personal work-related goals (Cooper & Sawaf, 1997). • Empathetic – communicate care Leadership Reconsidered, 2000 The Empathic Academic Leader acknowledges the teacher’s/staff ’s competence and value, thereby creating an atmosphere of reciprocal giving. When adults feel they give more to a relationship than they get in return, they feel distress and typically either reduce inputs (don’t do lesson plans, come in late, miss meetings, careless work), increase complaints (whiny behaviors), or end the relationship (quit trying). The Power of Influence • If you want to have power in your school/district, then earn influence rather than demand control. • Influence is only obtained through mutual respect. • Mutual respect must be initiated by the leader. • Mutual respect is gained through the display of empathy for others. Do As I Do Research indicates that when leaders model desired empathic behaviors, others are more likely to adopt these behaviors themselves than when they are merely told to behave in a certain manner. Why is Empathy Important for Children? • • • • Characteristic of the successful learner (Jones, 1990) Foundation of social intelligence (Mead, 1934) Significantly related to self-esteem (Davis, 1983) Related to prosocial behavior (Hoffner & Haefner, 1997) • Related to cognitive development and moral development (Atkins, 2000) • Related to grade point averages (Bonner & Aspy, 1984) • Related to critical thinking skills and creative thinking (Gallo, 1989) The Payoff of Empathic Leadership • “…When children feel safe, cared about, and relaxed they will learn more, not less. Our children are able to grapple with higher-order thinking questions because they don’t face the petty disturbances that arise in mainstream schools. We resolve conflicts as they come up, thereby reducing the children’s distractions.” Shlossman The Profile of an Empathic Academic Leader: Attitude • Open, warm, relaxed, good-humored, ensures fairness, models and expects common courtesy, explains how faculty/staff should work or behave in an understanding way rather than criticizing The Profile of an Empathic Academic Leader: Facial Expression • Frequent smiles, lots of eye-contact, generally positive demeanor, expressive face which shows emotions and can switch emotions quite quickly, can influence others’ emotions as well The Profile of an Empathic Academic Leader: Voice • Positive, encouraging, expressive, clear directions and explains the meaning of directives when necessary The Profile of an Empathic Academic Leader: Body Language • Uses gesture, animated, tactile, moves around, uses body for emphasis and explanation The Profile of an Empathic Academic Leader: Positioning • Generally gets closer to those he/she is speaking to, less distance, less formality and provides oneto-one support when possible even in a large setting, moves around quite a lot, sits down with the community members, lowers whole body down below student’s level The Profile of an Empathic Academic Leader: Responses • Knows and uses names frequently, listens carefully to others, gives them sole concentration when possible, elicits understanding from them, echoes and affirms their comments, tries to give a positive response but asks them to elaborate or develop response if weak, prompts and helps them when necessary The Profile of an Empathic Academic Leader: Content of Interactions • Conveys relevance of topic, uses personal interest, reflection, and humor in meetings; the personal used as a vehicle into topics The Profile of an Empathic Academic Leader: Miscellaneous • In touch with community member’s interests, form personal relationships with each member, considers the informal significant, very aware of individual social and emotional aspects, puts time and effort into relationships, concerned with out-of-school life of members, maintains a long-term view of the member’ s well-being, good listener Trust begins with a personal commitment to respect others, to take everyone seriously. Respect demands that we first recognize each other’s gifts and strengths and interests. Only then can we reach our common and individual potentials. Max De Pree Royalty for a Day REFLECTION A Key to Developing Greater Self-Understanding “Reflection is the beginning of reform. There can be no reform without reflection. If you don’t reflect when you commit a crime, then that crime is of no use. It might just as well have been committed by someone else.” Mark Twain “The Watermelon Speech” 1907 “Reflection is so critical; there can be no higher growth for individuals or for society without it. Reflection is the very process of human evolution itself.” David Sawyer Berea College Berea, KY The term reflection is derived from the Latin term reflectere—meaning “to bend back.” Webster defines reflect as “to think seriously; contemplate; ponder.” Dewey (1933) is acknowledged as the key originator in the 20th century of the concept of reflection. He considered it to be a special form of problem solving, thinking to resolve an issue which involved active chaining, a careful ordering of ideas linking each with its predecessors. Many people, both students and teachers, think of reflection only in terms of “touchy-feely” group discussions. However, reflection need not be limited to the release of emotional energy, the sharing of feelings, or attempts to “feel good.” Rather, reflection is decidedly educational. It is an opportunity through which one can learn from experience. Reflection can take numerous forms and can touch on an endless variety of issues. It furthers learning and inspires provocative thought and action. Most of all, it can benefit both the individual and the larger community. Simply put, reflection involves getting people talking/thinking about their experiences. Donald Schon (1983) in Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action calls for professionals to better understand their actions by thinking about their actions. He says we must get into the habit of thinking about our thinking. The Tennessee Evaluation Model does just what Schon (1983) suggests with such items as: • As you reflect on the lesson, what are your initial impressions? What did you see your students doing or hear them saying that support your impressions? • In your reflection, how did the lesson actually unfold as compared to what you had anticipated happening as you did your planning? • As you reflect back over this lesson/reflection and previous lessons/reflections, what ideas or insights are you discovering about your teaching? Some Forms of Reflection… • • • • • • • • Journals Logs Reflective Essays E-mail Discussion Groups Portfolios Book Clubs/Discussions … … Costa and Kallick (2000) maintain that “Building in frequent opportunities for faculty and students to reflect on their teaching and learning enriches education for all.” How often is this done in our schools? They further state… “In teaching as in life, maximizing meaning from experiences requires reflection.” And, finally… “Despite a reflective faculty’s best intentions to focus on the past, the tradition in education is to simply discard what has happened and move on to new topics.” It is up to us to break out of the “box.” Reflection…. What are faculty meetings like the majority of the time in your school? What do you think would happen in a school if faculty meetings became a time of reflection instead of a time for announcements and gripe sessions? Let’s reflect… • What are your “real goals of education”? • How would you define the differences between “learning” and “knowledge”? How should we be preparing kids for the real world? What is the real world, anyway? Can you identify some real-world skills or knowledge that every child should learn or know? If our society committed itself to the idea that we care about kids more than we care about schools, what would need to change? If you agree that the ability to believe in yourself and to love learning are important skills schools should teach, how would you go about teaching them? What is your definition or vision of a great school? How would you go about measuring each of the qualities you choose? Do you and your colleagues share the same philosophy or vision about your school or workplace? Why or why not? How does this influence the way you work together and think about your work? What would a school that was “a little more human” look like to you? •Reflections taken from: Littky, D. (2004). The big picture: Education is everyone’s business. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others? Martin Luther King, Jr. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead Anthropologist At the last great meeting of the species, the dinosaurs voted not to change. Sharing the Lead: Creating a Climate of Change Union University Michele Atkins, Ph.D. Kenneth Newman, Ed.D. Ann Singleton, Ed.D.