As I looked into moving into “leadership positions” within my own district, I believed that I did not have the experience to get into a role that I had wanted. The tricky thing is that if you don’t have the experience, how do you get the job?
“Leadership” is not about title, but often influence and the ability to help others. There are many administrators who aren’t necessarily leaders, and there are many teachers who exemplify the definition. Yet for many, the idea of moving into “leadership” without the experience, seems insurmountable. The reality is, the experience is already there within your current role, you sometimes have to just connect the dots for others, and more importantly, yourself.
So how do you do this? As I applied for administrative positions within my school district one of the best pieces of advice that I received was to look at Alberta’s “Principal Quality Standard”, which is the evaluation tool for administrators within the province. Most provinces or states will have something very similar. After looking at the seven standards, I was given the task to look at what I was currently doing in my role as a teacher, and how I was already meeting the standards.
For example, the first “quality” for leadership was regarding “Fostering Effective Relationships”. This standard is not exclusive to school administrators, and the best teachers do this in an abundance. To be able to make this connection on a resume and a portfolio is a great reflection for yourself, while also being able to showcase this to others.
Another “quality” is on “providing instructional leadership”. I have watched many teachers share ideas from their own classroom, and make an impact on not only other teachers, but students in the school (sometimes outside the school as well) that they do not teach. Again, this is not a quality that is exclusive to an administrator. In fact, a great administrator will not only be an instructional leader, they will develop others with these qualities as well.
There is a saying to “dress to the job you want, not the job you have”, but if you look closely enough, you might realize that you have already been playing the part. You sometimes just need to connect the dots.