I am just settling in to read a new book by Lolly Daskal and the introduction struck a chord in such a way that I just had to sit down and write out my thinking. In The Leadership Gap, Lolly Daskal, an executive Coach, describes a dysfunctional Board of Trustees he is working for. In digging into the root cause of the dysfunction, he quickly discovers that it is one gentleman who has caused the majority of the discord. The issue; the board member was once a CEO of a successful company and the skill set that made him so successful was his ability to make quick decisions in the moment. While this can be an important skill in the front lines of corporate leadership, it does not bode well in the reflective atmosphere of a board room where discussion is encouraged, deep contemplation is expected and sound, long term solutions are crucial.
Lolly goes on to suggest that the issues that board member had was a gap in his skills – he had stopped learning and was relying on the thinking that got him to this place in his career. When I read this I started to think deeply about the teaching profession. Years ago, as I entered the profession, I remember being given a classroom, textbooks and a teacher’s guide and released into the school. Figuring I got most of what I needed to survive my first year in University, administration would come in and evaluate and make a decision on my future based on my performance. I was granted a permanent contract and that was that.
In the years that followed, we were invited to go to one off PD if the budget allowed and PD days were spent primarily looking at planning and marking. Because of the nature of how I was prepared in my early career, you would find my next ten years in teaching VERY similar to my first. Do what works and keep on keeping on.
The tipping point for me personally was the moment I entered my Master’s program. I learned that I didn’t have all the answer. I actually learned I didn’t even have the right QUESTIONS! I began reframing the way I looked at learning and teaching and being more analytic about my skills. With the help of PLCs and my colleagues we began to reinvent the way we looked at the learning process. We began to fill in the gaps in our learning.
So what am I trying to get across? I am saying that no matter what your profession – teacher, leader, carpenter, plumber, or doctor, the importance of learning is crucial to fill in the gaps that were never filled in because what worked, worked alright. I am suggesting that everyone needs to be a learner. Knowing that, we need to set up systems that make learning easy and collaborative. Situations that make us really look at what we do and why we do it. Whether you read regularly, participate in a professional learning community or take classes, the constant improvement will lead you to great places.
I feel blessed I am working in a career that is really delving into professional improvement and I honor those who are always learning. So, thank Lolly . . . back to my reading!
Keep on learning