Leading from the Back

This piece from Ed Batista has me thinking about the kinds if leaders we need in the classroom. Batista’s point is well taken. Those who rise to leadership roles in organizations where their former contributions were aligned to separate skill sets n-ed to put those skills to the side to contemplate their role as leaders in the organization. They don’t need to be the craftsmen of the shop any longer. They are crafting new things.

Something similar can be said in the classroom. When I was teaching English to middle and high school students, my role shifted. I was no longer primarily to be learning about literature, writing, and reading the way I had been in K-12 or during my time in university.

Instead, I needed to understand what it took to help my students surpass me in learning about words and their uses and powers. My job, like the leaders xxx describes, was to step off the shop floor and start thinking about setting a vision for the space toward which all my students could work and in which they could all see their success.

This is not to say I stopped reading, writing, speaking and listening. I did those things, but they were not my primary roles.

In the math classroom, math teachers should still be curious about math, but the goal should be to make way for their students to surpass them as students of mathematics while they, the teachers, learn the new leadership skills key to teaching and fostering high-quality learning environments.

It might be easy to read the above as a suggestion that teachers relinquish the content areas they claim as specialties. This is not my intent anymore than I would suggest organizational leaders outside of education begin to neglect whatever domains in which their organizations specialize.

We must remain historians, musicians, scientists, etc. We must focus, though, on making way for our students to be better learners of any and all of those subjects than we are.

Image via Leo Reynolds

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