Donham, J. (2005). Leadership. In Enhancing teaching and learning : a leadership guide for school library media specialists (2nd ed.) (pp. 295-305). New York : Neal-Schuman Publishers.
Response to Donham
I really liked the list of criteria or traits that a good leader has: technical competence, conceptual skill, people skills, judgement, character. Quite a list to balance/strive for!
The concept of finding alternatives and work-arounds when faced with challenges, finding what you can control within your sphere of influence: so interesting and valid. Definitely a point for me to work on as I often want to change everything by being in control of it!
‘Leading from the middle’ – makes total sense and takes away the element of superiority and highlights anew the need for collegiality.
What is my personal vision for a library that I hope to work in one day? I love the idea put forward by Donham of a “resourced-filled centre of teaching and learning”. Nice and open-ended, opening up a variety of possibilities and uses.
A lot of what Donham says relates directly to visibility. If a TL is visible – in classrooms, on committees – then their vision, their expertise, their very character is more likely to be taken seriously. This cannot be underestimated. The amount of staff I hear discuss the role of a TL with ignorance, it makes me feel so sad that the role is not valued because it is not visible enough.
What is my area of expertise? How does it fit into my school context? As an educator at a very well resourced international school, my personal passion of educational technology is not actually needed much as there are two full time tech integrators on staff. So, if I was to work in this school as a TL, it would best serve the school community for me to focus my strengths, reflection and learning on providing outstanding information literacy skills. As the school’s new benchmarks have just been released, and they include IL outcomes, this would be a key way for me to advocate for my role as TL.
Leadership is not about telling people what to do, but facilitating people in making the changes they need and want to make to their own practice, for the betterment of their students (in a school setting). Leadership is also the most complex of concepts. Knowing when to lead from the front or the side, delegating versus knowing when to make the hard decisions. It’s both an intoxicating and extremely threatening context for me as I am a people pleaser so being in a real leadership position in the school is far too intimidating for me.
Despite this, I’m a very strong advocate for what is best for kids, even when it means change – difficult, challenging, out of comfort zone change. But I also know that my own enthusiasm and passion can be seen as forceful, arrogant and wanting change way too fast. I see an issue and I want it changed, NOW – not always going to sit well with people who need time to ponder, articulate, gather, assess.
The best leaders I have worked with have tried, repeatedly, to show me how to harness that desire and WAIT. Get input, find all the information you can, weigh up the arguments and THEN make a decision. I continue to practice this…