I never thought I’d quote Dolly Parton, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. She says: “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”
That’s a bold saying in a world filled with Instagram graphics and blog memes that remind us that we are “enough” right here, right now, just as we are. Thing is, I think that both sentiments are true.
The key to me in Dolly’s quote is the word actions. It’s not what we say we’ll do or what we dream about doing, but what we actually do that matters. It’s also not necessarily the actions we intend for others to see, but those that people witness in silence.
This is the rub when it comes to anyone in the spotlight, isn’t it? Think of all the talk about famous athletes and singers and actors who are professionally successful but grace the front page of tabloids; everything they do is scrutinized whether they wish for it to be or not.
In the classroom, you’re the one in the spotlight. Not to the same extent that celebrities are, of course, but in the bubble that is your classroom, the eyes are on you. The eyes are on you when you’re having a quiet conversation with just one student when the rest of the class is supposed to be reading. The eyes are on you when you take a phone call that your students can overhear. The eyes are on you when you break up a disagreement on the playground.
That’s some real pressure, isn’t it?
It doesn’t have to be. Part of being a leader is being real. Part of being a leader is showing vulnerability, admitting when you need help, and surrounding yourself with positive, intelligent, inspiring people who help you grow as you help your students grow.
You’re not just a teacher. You are a leader. A role model. A superstar in the eyes of those who fill the seats of your classroom. You may not feel like it every day, and that’s ok.
I think one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is grace, and one of the greatest gifts you can give your students is authenticity. I love what Brené Brown says about both in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are: “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
How do you balance being a leader and being yourself in the classroom? Id’ truly like to hear your thoughts and understand how I can help. Leave me a comment, shoot me an email, or discuss on our Facebook page.