Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Give Teachers Permission to be Creative

Why are leaders afraid to share leadership, and allow teachers to make decisions and ultimately fail or succeed
There is a connection between the increased distribution of leadership roles and responsibilities and the improvement of pupil outcomes. (Leithwood, 2010)
I immediately thought of Daniel Pink and his Theory of Self-Motivation. Daniel Pink talks about the motivation trifecta: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose and how people will do great work if they are allowed freedom to do their own thing. Schools are very complex microcosms that face layers of very difficult problems. These problems often require very creative solutions but I find many leaders are afraid or unwilling to allow their staff to experiment with co leadership.
I don’t know if this is a phenomenon strictly associated with the teaching profession where we are afraid of giving up control and allowing others to take the lead but it seems to be a huge stumbling block. Are the leaders afraid to give up the control or are they afraid because they are ultimately accountable if the teacher lead makes a mistake?
We often talk about the importance of student’s voice and the importance of having children direct their learning but teachers are often hesitant to give students this opportunity. Children want to learn and if given the opportunity they can tell us what they need so that we can support them.
Teachers also need a voice so that they can support the needs of their students. I think teachers are very creative and motivated people who will always impress if they are given the opportunity to do so. It is the role of all leaders to create an environment that promotes creativity without judgment in order to capitalize on the varied talents in every school.
Why are leaders not willing to share? If it is fear of people making mistakes that is holding them back then if we apply this to students what kind of a learning environment are we creating? This is a profession that does not deal with an exact science. The only constant is change and changing teaching styles will lead to better teaching and learning.
Leaders must create an environment that promotes teacher voice and allows teachers to make decisions. When teachers experiment they will develop tools that may support a variety of students. If they fail they need to be encouraged to try again for it is in being exposed to a variety of different techniques that will enable teachers to learn new skills.
Leaders must share this role in order to help solve problem with creative solutions. Empowering teachers to take an active role in the running of their school can only benefit the school and ultimately the children. More importantly with shared leadership comes the potential of developing future leaders, leaders who in turn will be collaborative.
Teachers need a voice to help shape schools. Opportunity breeds access and access breeds empowerment and change. Allowing teachers the opportunity to impact a system supports collaborative leadership and nurtures empowerment and engagement. Autonomy, mastery and purpose must pave the way to looking at leadership through a different lens?

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