I’m feeling sentimental tonight. I’ve returned from our district’s Lead the Way night – a night designed to inform, inspire and celebrate our current and future leaders within our board. During a discussion with a small panel of principals and vice-principals that spoke about their leadership journeys, a common message was balance, and taking time for family. We have an exceptionally dedicated and busy leadership team at every level of our district. Making time for family, despite our hectic day jobs, is possible and necessary.
This got me to thinking about my family’s role in my leadership journey, specifically that of my husband. I have been very fortunate to meet many leaders within our board and beyond thanks to my online PLN. All have influenced, expanded and pushed my thinking. But there’s a member of my support group that has done this as well and that’s my husband Chris. He’s a leader within his own field and has a small staff that works with him and for him. We’ve had many discussions among the dirty dishes of our just-eaten dinners about our days and he has impacted my learning and developing leadership as much as anyone else I’ve connected with in the field of education. He’s encouraged me to think of “bad” days as challenging ones. I blogged in an earlier post that challenging days at least offer something new to learn, whereas there’s nothing to be done with a bad day other than dwell on it, and that was his influence. And Chris is not afraid to pull the punches either. Recently I spoke in frustration about a staff member who had come to me in the past week and, to paraphrase, basically commented that she didn’t realize what grade she was teaching. Yes you heard me right, and it’s a long story that I won’t get into. So as I vented and fumed, Chris asked me point blank, “So what does that say about you as a leader in this case?” Ouch. But he’s right. What does that say about me as a leader in this situation? After reflecting, I dropped the ball as an instructional leader here. I have to take some responsibility. I have to work with this staff member to help build effective practice. And I’m okay with that. I was not okay with it when I first sat down at my dinner table, but such is the beauty of having someone push your thinking , give you other perspectives, ask you the tough questions or just simply “snap you out of it”.
There’s been a lot of talk about PLN’s and how they’ve impacted leaders in education. We’ve listed the tools that have enabled the building of our PLNs, tools such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. But sometimes, the most influential members of your learning network are as close as your dinner table.