After enjoying a snack or a meal on an airline, did you ever neatly tuck the stray plastic and torn packaging into a container or tight bundle to help make the retrieval of the trash easier for the flight attendant? I’d bet you have. Did you ever neatly fold a newspaper you’ve bought and read and take pleasure in leaving it on a Starbucks table or other public place for another person to read? I’d bet you have. Did you ever stop and happily allow another driver to take a parking space or have the right-of-way, even when the “right” was yours first? I know you have!
These behaviors, and the attitudes that drive them, are of the genre we must contemplate when we carry out our roles as leaders of teachers. For our book Power of Teaching—the Science of the Art, David Sundstrom and I studied the power of each teacher’s artistry in the work we lead on behalf of children. In-fact, it is only through teachers’ artistry that we can effectively serve children in our roles as Instructional Leaders. As we each reflect on the tenets of Servant Leadership, we should cement the notion that each and every move we make as Instructional Leaders, we really do impact the work of teachers—to the good, the no-so good, or to the detriment of their work. We either create improvements for teachers to better leverage their individual artistry for their students, or we further erode the supports that teachers need to accelerate achievement. If we value the importance a random flight attendant (see above) and we value any anonymous citizen who might want to read the newspaper we purchased and already read (see above) and we value another car driver’s convenience (see above) we surely, and above all the rest, value our teachers and what we do (constructively) for them.
For those of us charged with impacting the work in America’s classrooms, we should strongly connects the principles of Servant Leadership Jim Autry’s notion of Compassionate Confrontation to the work in our respective roles as supporting cast to the real stars in our profession—the teachers.