Today we will discuss why we ought to share our leadership journey with others, its benefits, and how-to make it happen. Simply put, it is a way to claim your position by narrating professional chronicles.
In my first post on the Time for Teachership blog, I shared the definition of teachership. It is "the quality that emerges when exceptional teaching is interwoven with exceptional leading," (Steinbacher-Reed & Rotella, Jr., 2015). Teachership encourages shared leadership. It asks school leaders to build capacity for teacher leadership and it invites administrators to reconnect with students and instructional practice. When teachership thrives, school stakeholders co-create plans and policies. It’s a powerful model, and it becomes exponentially more valuable when teachers and leaders share what they are doing and learning with teachers and leaders in other schools.
What’s the benefit of sharing your leadership story?
There are many. First, you help other leaders envision what could be possible. Depending on what and how you share your work, you may even provide a plan for making similar things happen in other schools. I also like to share what I have tried and learned because it helps me take the time to reflect. Synthesizing my own experience has unearthed many key insights I would not have if I had not sat down to write a blog or create instructional content.
Sharing can take many forms. One of these forms is collaborating with other schools and districts to form networks of transformative learning. Teachers and principals (and students and families) can visit other schools to get ideas for transforming systems in their own schools and provide feedback on a focus area determined by the host school. Stakeholders can debrief, asking questions of host leaders, teachers, students, and families. (These can still happen at a distance with some logistical adaptation.) Finally, it builds your professional presence and authority. This is helpful if you want to share your leadership story to wider audiences. Having a professional presence can help you become a guest on popular educational podcasts or blogs. When more people hear your message, not only can educators learn from you, it also expands your network, opening up more opportunities for collaboration with other schools, districts, and organizations.
How can I share my work and my learning?
There are many ways to share your work and what you have been learning! When you choose a preferred sharing style, consider what you have the time and energy to do. Choose something realistic that won’t take over your life (unless you’re planning to move into the consulting space full-time) and also choose something that is energizing and fun for you to do.
There are a few different ways to blog. You can start your own blog for the storytelling of your leadership journey. I use Weebly because I started my first teacher blog on Weebly about a decade ago. If you would prefer to guest post once in a while, reach out to some of the blogs you regularly read and propose a topic you want to write about. Make sure the proposal states how it would serve the blog’s purpose and audience. Another option is to use an existing platform to blog. LinkedIn is a great example. It has a built-in blogging option that is simple to use and likely to reach other professionals in the field.
Start a Podcast
I have heard the people who listen to podcasts characterized as passionate about learning. They will be most engaged with your leadership story. So, these are the folks you want to connect with! I am following my own advice here. This is actually the last “blog” post I’ll write for Time for Teachership because I am transitioning to podcasting. My weekly “blog” post will become more of a transcript or summary of the episode with relevant links.
Develop an Email List
Marketing experts like Jenna Kutcher always emphasize the importance of having an email list as an entrepreneur. This can apply to full-time school employees too. If you are trying to connect regularly with other educators and leaders, an email list is a great option. While some people (like me, actually, rarely read my emails and prefer to check in with educational leaders on their weekly podcasts), sending an email to your list is one of the best ways to make sure your community sees your message. On social media platforms, only a small fraction of people who follow you actually see the things you post. An email helps you get your message to those who have said they want to hear from you and pay heed to your leadership story. My recommendation is to make sure you provide value in each email, so your community knows you are not about needlessly taking up space in their inbox.
Join or Create a Private Facebook Group
If the folks you want to connect with are on Facebook, you can join a group they are already in or you can create your own private group if one doesn’t already exist. You can use the group to search questions and challenges educators are facing and encourage members to share ideas and collaboratively problem-solve. In your private group (or on your page), you can hold a monthly or weekly Facebook Live to share what you have been doing/learning and avail the opportunity to inspire others with your leadership journey.
Create a Workshop or a Course
You could host a live workshop on Zoom where you share what you have done and learned and facilitate the conversation around a narrow topic. Alternatively, you could create a self-paced online course. Make a curriculum out of your leadership journey by the lessons it taught you. Courses prioritize transformation and they are designed for people who are willing to put in the work to accomplish a dream. Self-paced courses provide more flexibility for you because you do not need to align schedules with interested participants and find the time in your schedule to facilitate live events. Participants can take the course at their own pace (just like self-paced student learning!)
Join a Mastermind or Sign Up for Group Coaching
Masterminds like the one hosted by Daniel Bauer from one of my favorite podcasts, Better Leaders Better School, are great opportunities to collaborate with other leaders. For more focused support, I facilitate group coaching for three to eight leaders from different schools and districts to engage in the group coaching around systematizing shared leadership and using adaptive leadership practices to advance racial and gender justice. These coaching calls are one hour a week. To learn more about group leadership coaching, leaders can schedule a 20-minute consultation call.
Whether you are building up your professional presence as a way to connect and collaborate with other educators or starting an online course business to make some extra cash, I’ve pulled together a list of tools for you to get started. This free resource is a compilation of the tools I’ve used to share my leadership journey and bring dedicated educators, excited about transforming our education system, together to inspire and support one another as a community.
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Lindsay Lyons (she/her) is an educational justice coach who works with teachers and school leaders to inspire educational innovation for racial and gender justice, design curricula grounded in student voice, and build capacity for shared leadership. Lindsay taught in NYC public schools, holds a PhD in Leadership and Change, and is the founder of the educational blog and podcast, Time for Teachership.