Evelyn is a veteran educator, leadership coach, and a warm motivator. I was fortunate to work with Evelyn in 2004 as I focused on building collaborative leadership skills. My biggest takeaways, after working with Evelyn, were:
the best leaders show up as themselves,
purposeful communication is powerful,
and walk your talk – at all times.
Evelyn really helped me see I could lead from my heart and not from the “old boys” structure I fell into. I am so grateful to Evelyn for helping me stay focused on seeing people first and then the work second. This interview is very powerful and will highlight the leadership skills we all already have – that might be dormant but itching to rise to the surface.
Educators in the United States are burning out at a fast rate. What are 3 factors causing this burnout?
In my work with teacher leaders I find that poor relationships in schools, lack of time, and a phenomenon known as the “Huberman Paradox” contribute most to burnout. Most teachers understand the issues related to poor relationships and lack of time, but may be unfamiliar with the “Huberman Paradox.” In Michael Huberman’s study of teachers’ careers, he found that teachers who concentrated their time solely in the classroom were more satisfied than teachers who engaged in reform activities at the school and district levels. This is paradoxical because while teachers find leadership work stimulating and motivating, they also find it leaves them feeling dissatisfied, bitter, and burned out. This is not good news for teacher leaders.
So that makes me think some teachers are not able to connect their relationship with their own values – with the work they have to do in schools. I’ll have to explore that more.
How could a coach help educators build some resiliency skills?
Coaching allows for the most personalized professional development. When teachers sign on to work with a coach, they can count on working on issues that directly affect them. In this way, coaching is job-embedded, context specific, and fully customized to meet the needs of teachers. Specifically, when dealing with burnout, coaching provides an avenue for teachers to gain clarity around what’s burning them out, develop the necessary coping skills to deal with stress, and take action on putting resiliency skills to work. Coaching is a supporting, problem-solving endeavor that helps teachers connect to the deeper meaning of the profession.
I love this! You completely reinforce the sentiment of showing up as yourself – your best self – at all times. I wish I heard this from you way back in 1994. I will be sure to share this with some educators I’m currently coaching.
When someone says I’m not a “true leader” what are some self discovery activities they can do to find out if this is really true?
That teachers don’t see themselves as leaders is a significant obstacle to the development of teacher leadership. Teachers hesitate to call themselves leaders because they have traditional notions of what is means to be a leader. Leadership, for some teachers, conjures up thoughts of a boss who leads alone telling others what to do. Teachers know that they can’t lead that way, so they reject the idea of leadership altogether.
A foundational self discovery activity involves uncovering assumptions about leadership. To do this, teachers need to acknowledge any traditional (hierarchical) beliefs they have about leadership and explore new meanings of leader and leadership. It may be helpful to consider definitions of leadership written by teachers. Here are just a few examples of how teachers have created new understandings of leadership.
”Leading is inspiring others to do willingly what needs to be done to the best of their ability.”
“Leadership means many things . . . growing with and through others, serving, encouraging, making mistakes, taking risks, accepting failures.”
“Leadership is the desire to accept a new challenge, to step up to the plate.”
It is also important to be self-aware. Warren Bennis says that becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. In this way, becoming a leader requires a lot of self knowledge and personal reflection. Another important self discovery activity is to put reflection to good use. Teachers should reflect on their knowledge, skills, dispositions, and experiences. Based on what they discover, they can determine in what ways they can lead in their school.
My truth bumps just rose up! “…becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself.” No truer words were ever spoken.
If a person is building their confidence as a leader, what 3 things can they do?
Three important things teachers can do to gain confidence in their leadership abilities are…
Lead from your strengths – teacher leaders gain their credibility by their knowledge and expertise. Teachers can use these strengths to help their school or district reach its goals.
Share leadership responsibilities with colleagues – teacher leadership is a community endeavor, and leading with others gives teachers the chance to expand their skills, see new perspectives, and develop important relationships.
Lead by example – Teachers can be a model of effective leadership in all their actions from the classroom, to the school, and in the community. Leading by example is an authentic way to build leadership skills.
Evelyn is the owner of School Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to the development of teacher leadership. After a house fire left Evelyn and her husband displaced for more than a year, and prevented Evelyn from working on her business, she is re-launching School Leadership Coaching in September. School Leadership Coaching is focusing on providing free teacher leadership content to teachers on Twitter (@teacherslead) and on Facebook. Please join Evelyn in the conversation about how to realize the full potential of teacher leadership.
You can check out Evelyn’s free coaching information here.