I listened to Chris Anderson (editor-in-chief of Wired, The Long Tale, Free) interviewed on the Catalyst leadership podcast today while on a walk with my 19 month old daughter and, was struck by a new idea the he fleshed out near the end of the interview.
"Today's form of leadership is community management. I do a lot less things for people. Instead I'm helping them do things for themselves."Anderson went on to say that "If you can create a community, they'll find you." This perfectly intersects with the thesis of my post about Seth Godin's new book Linchpin which I posted earlier this week. Leaders are no longer valuable because they can set up systems, they are valuable because they connect with people and create an environment (i.e. community) that causes them to achieve their best.
The connection to education is obvious. As a teacher, I lead my students. Setting up systems (seating charts, grading scales, homework policies) is less important than my ability to craft a community or environment which is conducive to learning. Are my students encouraged to take academic risks, to try new things, and to learn on their own or do they just show up, do their work, walk out the door and forget everything they just did?
As I reflect on the classroom environment that I've created this year I'm fairly happy. I haven't spent a lot of conscious effort in creating this environment, it's just happened based on my personality. Next year I need to adopt a more proactive approach in crafting the environment of my the classroom from the first day of school forward. Here are four things that I would like to emphasize:
- Building community as a class by celebrating successes, encouraging each other, and lending a hand when needed.
- Assigning students to small lab/learning groups of 3-4 for an entire semester to hold one another accountable and help and encourage each other.
- Spending class time to regularly remind students of the big picture: skills are more important than facts and habits that you start now will be with you tomorrow.
- Model life-long-learning by sharing with my students the things that I am learning on a regular basis.
That's all I've got for now. I'm sure my list will grow over the summer as I reflect on this past year and prepare for the upcoming year.
As a leader, I'm a community builder.