It Doesn’t Take a Title to Lead

Flipping Our End of Year Energy Contributed post by Nili Bartley

Many people have asked if Lead Like a PIRATE is just for principals. We feel very deeply that leadership doesn’t require titles. Check out this powerful post by Nili Bartley, a tech integration specialist, that shows the power of just that. Thank you, Nili, for all you do to make education better for students and teachers!

Beth and Shelley

Flipping Our End of Year Energy

Recently I saw this post shared by close friends who happen to be teachers.  I totally get the humor in it and I adore Melissa McCarthy, but I can’t help but wonder this; if that’s what we look like on the last day of school, what in the world will we look like on the first?

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This has been the mindset of so many educators for so long, thank goodness Lead Like a PIRATE is spreading a shift in thinking; inspire your teachers to run in, not out.  Like everyone else, I love summer and of course I’m tired, but there’s a difference between exhaustion and deflation.  The energy I left school with, the magic that brewed during the final days only gave me inspiration to break down the doors in just a couple of months.

What pushed my energy off the charts?  Simple.  People trusted me, we put our heads together, and took action.  Anything new for many brings hesitation, but we must never ever give up. It took a lot of time and I’m still learning, but just like when a teammate starts a two out rally, I’ve discovered it really only takes one spark.  If you’re lucky, that one spark becomes many.

This post is dedicated to my final energy booster, the greatest spark, the one that keeps me running every day of the summer.  Rather than racing toward the finish line, however, it’s a line that will mark the beginning.

The Power of Two, a PIRATE Two

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Have you ever brought an idea to someone else in hopes it would make a difference? What happened when you went at it alone?  What happened when you brought someone with you?  I have written about leading from my role in the past and the journey I began when I became a technology integration specialist.  One meeting alone taught me there is nothing like the power of two, especially a PIRATE two.

It’s easy to feel alone when the ideas you bring to the table are perceived as outside of the box or even crazy.  To make things harder, the best approaches go well beyond their titles. They need to be experienced with every bone in our bodies.  Yet once another teacher in your building believes that just as strongly as you do, and has felt blood rushing because an educational experience was just that good, that might be all it takes.

A few weeks ago I spoke with my colleague who had just finished Lead Like a PIRATE. We were pumped at the realization that we were ready to bring this number one best seller in education administration to our principal.  It was the second to last day of school and it was pouring outside.  Our principal was finishing up bus duty and it was the worst time possible to meet with her.  We reminded ourselves of a favorite quote from Martin Luther King Jr.  “The time is always right to do what is right.”  That’s how serious we were.

My colleague courageously led the way.   People like me bring passion, but we can also be loud (and even repetitive) with our enthusiasm.  Sometimes the best decision is to let someone equally passionate initiate the conversation. The beauty in this concept is that ultimately, it shows whoever it is you’re trying to inspire that you’re not alone.

Our goal was to schedule a more formal meeting and our amazing principal simply couldn’t say no.  I’m sure this was partly because we were laughing in the rain at the timing of our passionate plea.  Naturally, the next day my colleague and I talked for an hour strategizing who would say what and why, at the same time keeping it real.  We wanted to empower our principal to include us in her vision and allow us to join her team.

Two days later, for the first time, I wasn’t a teacher begging for something I believed in. This time, together, we were leaders bringing something to the table (literally) worth fighting for.  We joined our principal’s team, but just as importantly, she joined ours.

From presenting an overview of the book to discussing passion walls, pineapple charts, and revolutionizing staff meetings, we hooked her in.  We also listened.  We focused on every word our leader had to say as well as paid attention to each other.  The energy, humor, and relatability was like nothing I had ever experienced in a meeting before.  It turns out our passion and even vision were very much in line and for an hour and a half, we talked of the incredible potential that lay ahead.

I think we were in a bit of shock to be completely honest as my colleague and I both learned a valuable lesson.  Regardless of what people might perceive, and regardless of how things were done before, we are all on the same team.  When we were able to see this, tension loosened, we unleashed who we are (right in front of each other!), and suddenly a different kind of energy took form.  An energy that can only build, because we own it together.

I am of course at the edge of my seat now, waiting with much anticipation for our principal to finish Lead Like a PIRATE and meet with us again soon.  I can’t wait to write about the PIRATE transformations we bring as a leadership team.  In the meantime, I plan to share in my next post the risks teachers and students recently took.  They certainly created an excitement for teaching and learning that I predict will not only break down doors, but open opportunities for our whole school in just a couple of months.

CHALLENGE:  Take a picture of yourself running into school on the first day and tweet it using the #LeadLAP hashtag!