What is your AGENDA?

AGENDA… Positive or negative connotation? What does it mean to you? That one word can carry a lot of mixed emotions and definitions that can only be interpreted by two groups — the ones who have the agenda, and those that are the recipients of an agenda. Either way…

There is always an agenda… Every leader I know has one, and this is not a bad idea. When an agenda is seen for the overall well-being of a group, organization, the intentions are seen as positive and just maybe, enjoyable. But what happens when agendas do not follow the “positive” route? When agendas become self-serving, the negative connotation shows up and BAM!… you know what happens – trust is broken, chaos abounds, and the air is sucked out of the environment quicker than a time vacuum.

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The questions today that should require you to ponder are:

How do others view the agenda you have as a leader?
Does your agenda positively or negatively impact others?
Who is your agenda for?
What are you trying to “make happen” with your agenda?

An agenda always has an end in sight. Strong leaders make their agenda open and allow everyone involved to participate. Think of it like this… As a leader, this is where WE want to go… Now let’s get everyone involved and see how we can get to that end result. Everyone knows their role, everything is clearly defined, and empowerment is seen and felt. The “after effects” works for all. If we get there, then that means I get there.

Oh, but that hidden agenda. No clarity – fuzzy, hazy, clouded… you get the idea. The one no one knows about… Yea, right… The funny thing about hidden agendas is that everyone can actually see them. Weak leaders have hidden agendas, and they manipulate others to further that agenda.

All leadership agendas connect the dots. Leaders with open agendas connect the dots for everyone to see a completed picture. Leaders whose agenda is hidden connect the dots also. The only problem is the picture they make is circle around themselves. Leadership agendas must help form an alliance instead of isolation.

Becoming a successful leader, attaining a high position in one’s career, gaining “status”… these are not bad. But all of these will ultimately deteriorate, for time is the revealer of all things, if all one does is make their agenda about themselves.

The success of an agenda will always be seen. Will it be seen on the backs of others as step-stones and footstools, or will it be seen with others on your back? Beware of leaders who make their names on the backs of others.

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2019 J Clay Norton

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Teach with classroom leadership not classroom management…

If I had the opportunity to rewrite or rename a few college education classes, renaming classroom management would be the first on the list. We live in an everchanging world, and for the most part, people, in general, want to be led, not managed. Students are no different. Education needs more teachers who are leaders in the classroom, not managers. Yet, that is what we prepare future educators to do. Why not prepare them to lead? Classroom leadership takes classroom management to a welcoming concept for both the teacher and student.  Classroom leadership is what we should be teaching our future teachers. Classroom leadership needs to be discussed more in our educational conversations regarding teaching and learning.

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Classroom leadership is centered around empowerment, not only for you, as a teacher, but for the student as well. Classroom leadership should be based on a vision and principles, not managing students like they are products on a shelf; a vision that shows what the end result can be – where students can grow, and finish better than they started. Classroom leadership should be about influence, and that is what leaders do; influence inspires, management manages. When people are inspired, they do not have to be managed.

Too many teachers get caught up in wanting or even needing to have “great” classroom management. Now, that is not a wrong concept, per se, but…  What the question that needs to be asked is, “What are you managing?” Is it policy and procedure of your classroom, lesson plans, desks all in a straight row, etc…? I believe that most teachers think that classroom management is all about having their students behave; shut up, sit down, raise your hand, I am the teacher and I am in charge (Well, I have always felt that if you have to tell someone you are in charge, you probably are not leading very well anyway). And what happens when one of these “classroom management rules” is broken? Teachers immediately enforce “classroom management” and write a detention or send the student to the office.

So, how do we move a teacher from having classroom management to having classroom leadership? A few thoughts…

Develop hallway cred…

Yes, it is just like street cred and it might be the most important attribute you develop as a teacher.  Students will do right by you, if you do right by them and believe it or not; they will have your back. Being fair and honest is all it takes. However, this takes a teacher with strong emotional intelligence. You want a student to relate to you, be willing to relate to them. The thought “my way or the highway” only works with weak and insecure leaders.

Develop a quiet strength…

Every day, we have an opportunity to be for a student.  There are enough people in the world trying to tear students down; a teacher should not be one of them. Some students take more “quiet strength” than others, this we know.  But when that student knows we have found value in them, that we have acknowledged their strengths, empowerment takes place, and it is amazing how the environment of your classroom changes for the better.

Develop yourself in being a role model…

Your classroom starts with you.  The atmosphere is contingent on what you bring every day, and those four walls are your domain. Also, someone has to be the adult in the classroom; please let it be you – talk like, act like, and please dress like an adult. If you want your students to act a certain way, give them a reason to act that way.

Develop an understanding that mistakes happen…

For the most part, I do not know students who “mess up on purpose.” Now, they may not know a better way, but as soon as you “connect” with them, they might just take your words for correction to heart more often. Mistakes can be an opportunity for learning. Please quit “beating” a student up because they get a wrong answer or do not understand. More importantly, when you make a mistake, be transparent enough to acknowledge it in front of a student or the class; this goes a long way with every thought thus far.

Now it goes without saying that there are a few teachers who have excellent classroom management, but I would say that they actually have outstanding classroom leadership instead. I would go even further by saying classroom management is easier for teachers who have classroom leadership. Excellent classroom management is a by-product of classroom leadership.

Overall, we are talking about a paradigm shift – shifting from one thought of how our classrooms should be to another. As a classroom teacher, our focus should be where we can move a child on the educational scale of the particular subject area you teach. Yes, we teach students in the now, but we educate them for the future. Leading them is the answer. Learn how to be the classroom leader instead of the classroom manager. Everyone will be better for it.

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2019 J Clay Norton

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Be Amazed…

When was the last time you were amazed at someone’s leadership? Now, I realize that is a loaded question. You might ask, “What type of leadership, good or bad?” That is a question that is definitely worth asking. Let’s focus on being amazed at good leadership for today’s blog.

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Do you ever stop, pause, and think to consider why good leaders are good? Do you look at the details of what, why, and how they lead? Better question… do you experience joy when good leadership takes place? I would say that we all do unless we are wrapped up in an agenda of self. I would also say that we experience sadness when bad leadership takes place and sometimes even regret.

We live in a culture that continually pulls away from recognizing and responding to what and where leadership is. It seems that we are so amazed at good, quality leadership when it takes place because there is so much lousy leadership. In every event, leaders produce leadership. The goal of producing amazing leadership is to highlight the wonders and inspire others. Why? Because that is what good leadership does.

A few thoughts we should consider…

  • Let’s discover how valuable amazing leadership really is and to find a way to obtain it for our lives for the areas we lead.
  • Let’s find a passion for participating in amazing leadership and let it be servant-based and intentional.
  • Let’s use amazing leadership as a means that enables us to cultivate a productive leadership life toward others.

Knowing about amazing leadership does little good if we do not take the time to actually recognize its worth and significance. The gift of amazing leadership includes the desire and energy to go and do likewise. Unknowingly, it starts as a small ripple in a still stream that eventually rushes forth to an immense waterfall that people will stand, watch, and be in awe. They will be amazed!

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2019 J Clay Norton

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These are the times that try educator’s souls…

Thomas Paine penned these words in The American Crisis, dated December 1776, to convince people at the time to continue to support the American cause of the Revolution.

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”

As I have read these words and thought much about them as of late, it seems that we are almost in the same spot when it comes to where we are in education, not only as a nation but as a state more importantly. As educators, who are in the schools, are our souls troubled? Yes. Do we need an educational revolution, per se? Yes. Education and educators need quality representation.

 

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As we break down each one of the sentences of Thomas Paine’s great thought, let’s look at it through the lens of educators. We are at a point where it is time for those who make educational decisions to be convinced to support the cause of education.

THESE are the times that try men’s souls

Yes… These are the times that try educator’s souls. Why? Too many tests, too much time spent on paperwork, and too much anything else that gets in the way of actually allowing teachers to teach. It is too much, too many, too often, too… And let us not forgot that as educators, we have to pay for our on raises by completing the requirement for higher degrees or certifications.

The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Let’s replace solider and patriot with educator… Yes, education, as a whole, is in a crisis, and many educators who are disheartened or contented fall away from its service. But oh, how we need educators who regardless of the crisis, will stand for what education should be – that is to educate truly. When that happens, yes, educators deserve the love and thanks of all.

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

I am not saying that where we are in education is suppressed by tyranny, but I will say it is very hard to conquer where education is right now.  The tyranny I see is that we have non-educators making educational decisions. Educators are the ones who need to have the voice for what education should be. However, the consolation – for what it is worth… the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph of educators today as they continue to rise and meet the demands set before them. Those who continue this good fight are worthy.

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.

There might be some who really think that because teachers teach, they cannot do anything else. Too cheap – esteem too lightly? Well, my question would be to those who think this way… Why is there a teacher shortage? Why is teaching not valued by others? As long as there are teachers who care, education will have value, an intrinsic value only. Teaching is not easy – those who can, do, and they hold it dear.

Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

Let’s replace freedom with education… Heaven knows how to put a price on proper goods? Yes, I believe that. I believe that education is a proper good, deserving of all, and it should continue to be highly rated. If educators decide not to teach, who will?

Many times we stand at a crossroad in our lives, and it is at those times, our soul is troubled. As we remember that education is for the future, we should be able to find some solace, knowing we teach for others. The future can only measure the value that educators bring. We need quality representation to hear our voices to make sure our souls are not troubled in the future. There are too many other “things” in life that try our souls… education should not be one of them.

 

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2019 J Clay Norton

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