Birkenstocks and High Heels

How they exemplify my leadership style.

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Birkenstock Sandals

I am focused and confident and show compassion and support for my students in the classroom.

My first pair of Birkenstocks, I bought with hesitation and trepidation. I thought they were ugly and clunky but the podiatrist insisted I try them out. I was abusing my feet, wearing high heeled shoes everyday. But I found that these gave my feet the support they needed. They were good for my feet and really allowed me to finally treat my feet "well" (the compassion part). The sandals purpose was focused on "healing" my sore feet.

I believe that my leadership style is much like a Birkenstock sandal because I provide support and compassion for my students and my colleagues. I show them support in subtle, non-threatening ways. I don't try to force my opinions or ideas upon people in general, but allow them space and time as needed in order to process information and new concepts. As a teacher, I am trying to develop independence in my students, to promote critical thinking with creativity. With my colleagues, I try to collaborate and communicate openly.

My students have learning disabilities with a severe weakness in reading. By the time they reach middle school, it is a very sensitive topic. There is the whole issue of peer and social relationships that have a huge impact on academic performance. They want to appear "cool," and that sometimes gets in the way of their learning. Part of my role as their teacher/facilitator is to focus on becoming their supporter and encourager. They are fragile by the time they come into my class and need a lot of boosting and compassion, which is what I can provide.

Amongst my colleagues, I seem to be one of the 'go-to' people when it comes to anything tech-related, be it a software or hardware issue. I think I show some level of confidence and competence partly because I am not afraid to try new things. I rely on a lot of trial and error to help me through my own discovery process when I'm learning something new so I welcome requests from my colleagues - I learn from them as well.

These are traits I value and ones I have committed myself to modeling/cultivating as I continue on my journey in leadership.

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High Heels

I think I demonstrate passion, integrity, and genuine-ness (?) as a leader.

A leader should make the people around him/her feel secure to allow for risk-taking. I often tell my students that mistakes are the best way to learn. Especially when reading new words or re-learning sounds, being able to take a risk in the class is really important. It allows for growth and improvement. Wearing high heels is definitely a risk sometimes, but sometimes taking a risk results in a great reward. It can show one's passion for beautiful shoes, just as a leader in education can show their passion for learning and sharing.

My Leadership Style Values the Following traits:

  • Passion
  • Trust/Integrity
  • Focus
  • Compassion
  • Genuine-ness
  • Support

I think my strengths as a leader lie in building relationships between and with students and colleagues. If I can trust my students and myself, we can accomplish so much more than if I micro-manage them. If I believe in my colleagues and students and always presume positive intentions (B. Wellman), we can always look forward and move forward towards achieving our goals.