Because I speak at conferences, I have to have a Speaker Showreel. Relax – you can spare yourself my melon and stop watching after 13 seconds if you wish for the purpose of this newsletter.
In those 13 seconds, I refer to leading learning as being about helping folk step into the transformational force that is learning. I see that force as running like a river through any organisation, especially schools. Pretty funky analogy, eh?!
This week, I saw a wonderful practical application of that analogy in the form of Michigan County Sheriff Mitch Swanson amidst the current unrest in the US. Yeah, ‘unrest’ isn’t the right word – I’m just not sure where to find words for whatever is going on over there.
Click here to watch the video, if you haven’t yet stumbled across it on your socials.
Here’s what so impresses me about Swanson that also has implications for Teachers as School Leaders:
- He assumes a position of authority without being authoritarian.
- He abandons any intention to control conduct, for a clear determination to encourage it.
- He knows that forcing emotional people to comply, guarantees conflict.
- He models the behaviours expected and joins in.
- He works WITH those he leads rather than doing leadership TO them (those among you with a Restorative Practice bent will know best what that means).
- He comes from a stated intention of love and collaboration rather than seeking to win.
- He sees an opportunity to amplify his intention behaviourally that he didn’t plan for – and takes it anyway.
- He talks with people as he walks establishing a clear two-way learning experience.
That river of angry protestors must have been a little daunting to Swanson – but he stepped directly into it. That took courage. But the benefits are understanding, dialogue and connection – all things that the US could do with more of right now.
That’s leadership. That’s leading learning. If you have students, families or colleagues struggling to step back into the river of learning in your school at the moment – you’re the right person to hold their hand.