The GPS of Leadership

GPSI love many components of my job as the Languages Learning Supervisor, but some of my most thought-provoking challenges emerge during my interactions with Literacy Coordinators as we develop sessions to share with the staff within Thames Valley.

One of our Professional Learning Series is entitled, “Journeys into Literacy” and in an effort to provide consistency and visual appeal, we use many graphics related to travel.

Last week, during one of our sessions, we used a picture of a GPS to depict the role of an administrator as they facilitate learning conversations with their school teams.

One of the first things we do when using a GPS is to input our destination.  School leaders, through their work with their school teams determine where they need their schools to go. They look at their data and choose their most urgent student need.  That student need becomes the basis for their school improvement plan.   They are working towards arriving at that goal.

Knowing where you’re going is the first step.

Each GPS has a feature which allows you to choose how you’re going to reach your destination. The scenic route, the most direct, the fastest etc. are all options.  When leading school teams, leaders need to know which parts of the journey they will need to slow down on and which parts their school teams already have a good handle on and therefore, less time is needed.  If their school team needs more time on developing a collaborative culture, then it’s time to slow down and take the scenic route. If the school team has a deep understanding about the power of positive relationships, they the lead can cruise on by.images (1)

Knowing how to get there is the second step.

Another feature on the GPS allows the user to zoom out or zoom in.  As leaders, there will be times that you will need to have a bird’s eye view of the school ~ what is consistently happening (or in some cases not happening) throughout the whole school. Those are the times you are zooming out.   But then there will be times that you’ll need to zoom in and focus on specific divisions, departments, grade levels.

Knowing which view (big or small) is the third step.

The final feature is the volume control. When we are driving on a well-known route, we do not need the volume turned on.  It can even lead to frustration, at times.  But when we are traveling in an unknown or challenging area, we need the volume to assist us in making those correct turns.  As a leader, when we are facilitating the learning conversation, there are times when our voice needs to be heard, to ensure the right direction is being adhered to.  But there are other times, when we need to be on “mute” and our teachers need to be leading the learning.

Knowing when to lead the learning is the fourth step.

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The GPS analogy met our needs and we were glad that we had embedded it in the conversation.

When thinking about your leadership, which graphic would you chose?

Come write with me….

One at a Time

one_at_a_time-LRGThere are days when the magnitude and far reaching responsibility of my role as the board’s Languages Learning Supervisor suddenly hits me.  My job is to lead and work alongside of our Learning Coordinators, Coaches and Teachers on Special Assignment to ensure that all of our students become literate.   Yet, we know that we are far from reaching that goal.  Many of our students continue to struggle to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively.  Many of our students continue to avoid reading because they have not yet gained the confidence to read independently.  Many of our educators continue to look for new and innovative ways to engage students in literacy, as they still feel that they are not meeting the needs of all of their students.

So…. Where does one begin?

Earlier this week, on my drive into work, I stumbled upon a favourite CD ~ Garth Brooks’ Greatest Hits and as soon as I heard, “The Change” it immediately reminded me of something that was shared at my very first meeting as a new administrator.   Our Executive Superintendent, at the time, was doing his best to calm our nerves as we were about to embark on this journey and in doing so, he read the poem, The Starfish about a man who, seeing a shoreline full of starfish ~ destined to die ~ begins to throw them back, one at a time, knowing that he can’t save them all.   The final line of the poem is “It made a difference for that one”.  It reminds us that we can make a difference, one child at a time, one teacher at a time.

In searching for images to enhance this post, I found so many that I decided to compile them into a video and add the soundtrack from “The Change”.



Our job is to continue to move forward,  to embark on new journeys, to try new strategies, to continue to teach all of our students to read, write and communicate ~ one at a time.  And in making a difference for “one”,  we will ultimately make a difference for all.

Who did you make a difference for today?

Come write with me….