How Great Teachers Look at Things

Chances are, if you’re a classroom teacher, you don’t see yourself as a leader.
After all, leadership in schools is always the same. No matter what school you walk into you could probably draw a picture of the set up with your eyes closed.

Most likely, it would look something like this:

But, what if we’re all looking at this in the wrong way?

A different way to view school leaders and leadership

What if the leadership in a school was more like this?

The best leaders I’ve worked with not only have this picture in their minds, they also bring it to life with their words and actions.

They don’t see themselves as being on top of, or above, everyone. Instead, they see all the people who need to be supported to make the biggest impact on those we are all there for: students.

Inspirational and impactful leaders see the bigger picture beyond themselves. They also tirelessly invested in those around them to make that picture become a reality.

While listening to the inspiration for this post (an episode from the podcast Finding Mastery, see below for more details!), I couldn’t help but think of all the influential and inspiring leaders I’ve been lucky enough to work with and meet (along with those who didn’t demonstrate this…but that’s a whole other post!).

Looking back over the last eleven years, the greatest leaders I have worked with see the bigger picture. They’ve continually seen all of those people in that largest section of the triangle they are there to support.

However, we often seem to think of leadership in schools as only being about the principal, deputy principal or curriculum/team leaders. As a result, I think often we forget to see teachers as leaders of their classrooms.

Since listening to this episode, the question I have been considering was this: do great school leaders and teachers see things differently to others?

Thinking back over all of those great (and terrible) teachers I’ve seen in action, as a student, colleague or coach, I realised something.

Great teachers see things more like this:

Seeing our classrooms in this way is important. It not only speaks to our purpose for why we jump out of bed each morning, why we teach and how we see our role. It isn’t about being on top or always directing from above; instead it is about building up, supporting and leading others to achieve and succeed – wherever they are in their learning journey.

It can be a challenging picture. For some of us, it could be daunting to think we aren’t at the top. Or that our role is about serving the needs of others – through building relationships, challenging thinking, high expectations and purposeful learning experiences.

But, that’s what makes great teachers so incredible. They remember if it isn’t for students, we wouldn’t be there.

They see the power in being student-centred.

That’s how they are able to lead and guide their class to experience meaningful learning. Or, how they able to step back and give their students the space (and support) to discover, experiment, fail, question, succeed and, ultimately, learn.

All because of an upside down triangle.

A recent episode of the amazing podcast Finding Mastery inspired this post. It’s a great podcast that always gives new insights and ideas, check it out and share your thoughts with us!


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