Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Are you the CEO of your classroom?

CEO - Chief Executive Officer.

We think of a high-paid corporate person. They make the last decisions that either make a successful business or one that fails like Enron.

But, aren't you a CEO?

The Chief Executive Officer of your own classroom. A leader with a vision for the success of those whom follow.

That's you, that's me.

How do CEOs lead?

Let's think.

They have:

A Vision
Clear Expectations

The most effective CEO has:


Now, reflect... what do you have? If you're Teach For America I know you have a vision... don't lie.

What you must also have is charisma to some degree, otherwise TFA wouldn't have put their trust in you to "sell" their idea.

How can we all grow? Let's focus on our leadership style, not our teaching style.

"Leadership [is] the use of power and influence to direct the activities of followers toward great achievement"

Isn't that what you want?

Students (your followers) that are influenced (by you) with super high-level thinking?


We need to realize that we can and we have to LEAD by influencing and not by assuming our followers will follow.

My students, if left to their own devices, would just wreck havoc in the classroom. I have to give them the opportunity to see their ability to grow. I, the CEO, the leader, must leverage my influence (by building relationships) to show my students that they can.

It's not as easy as it sounds. Business is easy to read, but hard to implement since it takes time to see effects. I assure you, there are ways to ensure that your students see you as a CEO.

For example, try being patient. A student that throws their pencil isn't your enemy. The enemy is the negative energy. Encourage that student with positive words because you are trying to lead him/her toward success.

Try seeing yourself as the CEO, as the leader. Don't let your students lead, but also don't let the "power" go to your head.

DO NOT be that teacher that stops teaching and says "I'm getting my paycheck regardless." or the teacher that screams at their students (another topic to be discussed later as "abusive supervision").

Put yourself in the students' seats just as an effective leader puts themselves in the seats of their followers. See what they see... a screaming adult. Something they might see regularly at home (as you may hear) But if they're getting it at home, maybe YOU should be the person that leads them to better actions. Yelling will not push them to do better long term, it will push them to look for a reaction in the short-term.

Reflect on whether you are an effective leader. Would you follow your vision if you were the student? Would you understand where you were going if you were looking at the goal or expectations? And if you, as the student, understand the vision, goals and expectations because you have an amazing teacher (since you're still in the student mindset) then you must look at if the teacher's actions are effective in manner.

Does he/she react harshly to situations? Does s/he show that s/he cares in some way through positive actions? Does s/he stand yelling at me throughout the day? How does s/he motivate me (perhaps through long-term INTRINSIC motivators of growth, or maybe one-time-only ways of candy/chip rewards)

Seriously, I don't expect you as a first/second year teacher to want to sit and ponder this for long. But take at least the two questions that are highlighted and reflect... and then if your answers say yes to intrinsic motivators and patience in heated situations, you're doing something right. If you're answering in the negative from the point of view of a student, then you may need to change your LEADERSHIP style... not your teaching style. Remember, an ineffective screaming manager spends 25% of their time on conflict. How nice would it be to have 95-100% of your time dedicated to teaching?

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