Being a good leader is something that I have not really struggled with most of my life. Or at least I thought that until I read Friedman’s work. I can now see how often I have fallen into the traps of being a leader who has good intentions but not always good follow through.
The first attribute that I am going to work on is being clear about my vision in relation to my idea of “Appy Hour”. I think that by focusing on my “why” at the beginning and end of every meeting, it will help me keep my vision in line. So often, it seems to be about getting people to follow along with ideas, irrespective if they are learning why they are doing something. By making sure our attendees understand why “Appy Hour” is important for the students at Moore, especially after they leave Moore, the vision should stay in the forefront of our minds. We are trying to prepare students for jobs that might not even exist yet. And we cannot achieve that goal if we are still using the same old teaching techniques that I had as a young girl. We need to be engaging with the students in every way imaginable to prepare them for the future.
I am also going to continue to develop my willingness to be exposed and vulnerable. I am sometimes a brutally honest person so this should be an easier idea for me. I have always tried to share experiences with my own two children during “Appy Hour” to drive home the ideas that students these days need an entire set of skills that we can’t even fathom in the elementary school setting. Both of my children attended Moore Elementary and while their technology education was well above par for much of the district, I still feel like there is so much more that they can be exposed to. I am also the first one to admit when something is hard or I am struggling with using a new tool. I feel like being exposed and vulnerable like that will help the other attendees feel more comfortable in their struggles.
Having the capacity to separate myself from the anxiety of my school will be quite the challenge. I try to be calm, cool, and collected during our “Appy Hour” meetings but sometimes I can see people check out through their expressions and it does rattle me. I need to remember that to calm anxiety around me, I have to be strong and firm with what I am doing and saying and not get drawn in to their worries. This could also be true of emotional triangles and empathy. I need to remember that telling them that I know it is hard to fit technology into their busy days is not helping them or pushing them to do something that is a bit more uncomfortable. It is giving them an out that they will use every time. I haven’t seen too many triangles present themselves where I am in danger of being pulled in. But I have seen every attendee struggle with the triangle of themselves/the technology/and time. I need to remember to point the triangles out to the attendees and show them that these could be problems when they are trying to implement the technology.
Having concern about fitting in has never really been an issue for me as a leader. I have never really fit into one box my entire life. I have always been the one out on the edges doing things that seem odd or scary in terms of my education and career. But, I do need to be self-aware that the potential is there for me to want to be like the others and have the same thoughts and feelings as they do. I will focus on my “why” again for this strength, using it to keep myself in check if I feel like I am slipping into that “herding” mentality.
A very big struggle for me will be the self-regulation of emotions in the face of sabotage. I have already begun to see some signs of sabotage to my “Appy Hour” so I know what I am doing is a good thing. But I do have a very reactive personality. I am the first one to get emotionally drawn into a situation, especially in times of stress or exhaustion. I am going to have to be very aware of what is going on inside of me in terms of my emotions and make sure that I take the time to process them internally before I let them come to the surface. I will remember Friedman’s example of how he didn’t take the nitro pill when he experienced pain until he did some deep breathing to see if the pain passed. By keeping my own anxiety at bay, I will be better able to manage the anxiety around me about “Appy Hour”.
Finally, Friedman suggests a certain level of persistence. I am a very persistent person but I can get very distracted by my day to day life with my children and husband, in addition to the increased level of work that our district has put down to our Kindergarten classrooms. I have to remain focused on what my end goal is, which is to get more teachers at Moore using technology and apps in their classrooms. By remembering my personal “why” of “Appy Hour”, I hope to be able to maintain my laser like focus on my end results.
Friedman, E. H., Treadwell, M. M., & Beal, E. W. (2007). A failure of nerve: Leadership in the age of the quick fix. New York: Seabury Books.