EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was originally posted on George’s blog on July 6, 2010 and can be found here.

First of all, if you are reading this, thank you. Any time I am able to have someone read my work and allow me to share my thoughts with them I am highly appreciative.  I honestly pour my heart and soul into my writing (which often leads to grammatical and spelling errors) as it is important for me to always wear my heart on my sleeve.  If you are an educational administrator and you are aspiring to be a GREAT educational administrator, I just wanted to share a few of the things that I have found in the last few months of my career.

Leadership is action, not position.
— Donald H. McGannon

Being a school administrator can be a challenging job.  Although I find it very fulfilling, it definitely has its days that are tougher than others.  You surely experienced the same thing as a teacher.  When you are working to build an environment to create the leaders of the future, do not expect it to be a smooth ride the entire time.  In the last few months though, I have found that the support I have received through Twitter and other social networking sites, including this blog, have inspired me to learn and share with so many other great educators.

No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it. We need to see the world anew.
-Albert Einstein

Take for example, Chris Lehmann from the Science and Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.  If you ever wanted to see someone who is full of knowledge, cares aboutkids, and is motivational, watch one of Chris’ speeches.  Although I have never met Chris in person (none of the people I am going to talk about have I ever met in person although I hope to change that soon) through following him on Twitter and on his blog, he has taught me so much about what is important in education and how to move forward towards these goals.

Great necessities call forth great leaders.
— Abigail Adams

Or Eric Sheninger, Principal at New Milford High School in New Jersey.  Here is a principal that was a proponent of social media in schools, and now he uses it along with his students in his school to further learning and share successful practices.  He is not only brilliant, he is supportive of all those that he has come in contact with.  If you want to move your staff and students forward, there are several posts (herehere, and here) that Eric has shared with his school and his Personal Learning Network.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
— John Quincy Adams

Or take Patrick Larkin, Principal at Burlington High School in Massachusetts.  He works tirelessly at promoting his school to move forward and share his experiences through his blog.  In fact, he recommends that ALL principals should have a blog and I would agree with him.

If we always do what we’ve always done, we will get what we’ve always got.
-Adam Urbanski

Sadly, I guarantee that I have left out several amazing administrators that I have connected with over this past six months. If you are on Twitter, here is a list that Eric put together of other educational administrators that I know would definitely be willing to share their learning with you: Educational Administrators on Twitter

The price of greatness is responsibility.
— Winston Churchill

Do not for a second think that I am saying that you must connect with these other educators around the world to be great, but it definitely does help.  Fact of the matter is that, as a principal you may not yourself aspire to greatness.  For many, being a principal is just a job. That is fair as well.  As a leader though, it is your responsibility to make sure that you give the people the opportunity around you to be great. That is ultimately how you will be judged.  It is not how well you can speak, or the knowledge that you bring to your school, but it is how you empower those around you to do amazing things.

A good leader inspires others with confidence; a great leader inspires them with confidence in themselves.
– (Unknown)

As a principal, I expect my students and staff to posses the qualities of a lifelong learner and by furthering my own knowledge will I model this.  You could definitely further your knowledge through a university course, or reading a book by a great business leader, but I am finding that I am learning more from others that are in similar positions as myself. These are not great principals of yesteryear, but these are educational leaders of today.  Through them I see unbelievable innovations everyday.

To lead people, walk beside them.
— Lao-tsu

Don’t know where to begin? Try this list of school administrator blogs that can help you.

It is today we must create the world of the future.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

As a true leader, I am assuming that you already know that administrators are not the only leaders in your school. My school is full of them and so is yours.  In fact, many of the leaders in your school have maybe already shared resources with me in my pursuit to help my own staff. My kindergarten teachers asked me how they could use more technology effectively in the classroom at the end of the school year. I asked this same question through social networks and found these resources immediately. You could do a google search, look through resources, assume which ones work. You could also ignore the question and say “I don’t know.”  It is okay to say you don’t know. In my own career, I would rather say, “I don’t know but I will see what I can do to help you.”  Although, similar to when you start anything new, there needs to be time spent connecting with others. As my own connections have progressed though, I actually end up saving time as I have an entire community helping my school to get better.  This way gives the opportunity for everyone to become leaders.

The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.
— Ralph Nader

There is no shame in being the quiet leader.  I believe that relationships you build with school community are the MOST IMPORTANT indicators of whether you will be successful or not. Knowledge is secondary to those connections. I am also by no means saying that I have achieved the level as a principal that I would like to; I definitely have so much to learn in my career. But you have accepted your role as an educational administrator and as a person who cares about the future of all children, you need to do everything in your power to serve those you work with and lead them to unleash their greatness. Isn’t that why we are in this position in the first place?  Use the collaborative nature of social networks to improve your learning along with the opportunities for staff.

The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.
— John Buchan

Hopefully I have given you enough tools to get you started, but if you need more, don’t hesitate to ask.  There has been no better time to learn from one another then there is now; take advantage.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.
— John C. Maxwell

This is not about technology. This is about connecting and sharing with others and yes, technology can be a fantastic medium for this. It is still ultimately about the relationships you create. Remember that there is a difference between an educational administrator and an educational leader. How do you want to be remembered?

 

George Couros

Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning at Parkland School Division

George Couros is currently school principal of Forest Green School and Connections for Learning, located in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada. The schools are from ages K-12, and he loves working with kids of all ages. He is passionate about distributed leadership within his school, and believes that creating a collaborative environment with all stakeholders, will help to ensure that educators meet the best needs of all children. You can learn more about George on his own blog entitled “The Principal of Change”. George is also the creator of the "Connected Principals" site because he knew that we can learn so much from a strong team of educators with different backgrounds, as opposed to the view of only one. It is imperative that as educators, we are learners first.

http://georgecouros.ca

  • George, you’re such an inspiration! I think the key is that as well as connecting online with other administrators and teachers, you inspire and allow the people you work with everyday to lead in the ways that they are able. Many administrators are not willing to do so, maybe because they are afraid that if they release some of their power to others it will diminish rather than enhance their role or maybe because they don’t have a clear enough vision to have their staff all leading in the same direction. n”you need to do everything in your power to serve those you work with and lead them to unleash their greatness” I hope this is the standard we will all aspire to – classroom teachers toward their students, as well.