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I will and have been using a journal of activities to measure these goals as well as the total goals of my day-to-day work.
In this respect I will be trying to eliminate one of my flaws; that of being a know-it-all at times. There are certain points where I go off on tangents trying to solve the unsolvable. I can waste a great deal of effort tin trying to be right. I could just as easily step back and appreciate the polar opposites of a problem and try to remember that there is often more than one answer to a given situation.
In my time as a naval officer I certainly have discovered how to effectively lead a team and many of those skills can be applied to my current role as an effective teacher and section leader. In that respect I feel that I do possess the following leadership styles and attributes:
I am a Managerial leader that is goal focused with a high tolerance stress and pressure. I have great personal integrity and am motivated to perfume my work to the highest of standards. However, I consult with my peers & subordinates; I ensure that the organization's mission & vision are being implemented. In that respect I am also a behavioral leader in that I use and adopt what I perceive to be the strengths of other section members and find compliments for their deficits in other team members or myself. I also see myself as being a people-oriented leader valuing input and assets above all else.
What is overlooked in these knowledge management discussions is the science of how people develop. Organizations that strive to extract the greatest value from their collective expertise often emphasize their tools and systems for building, using, and managing knowledge. This focus can infuse the organization with insights about alternative approaches, stimulate opportunities to share ideas, and provide synergy for bringing ideas together, where they can combust into something even better. (Hicks & Peterson, 2000, p. 30)
One of the positive side effects of my time as a Military Officer is that I am always looking at the "what if's" of any given situation, which make me an excellent Contingency leader. I am also a firm believer in the growth and development of my staff, the sharing of information, and the concept of "there is no one best way" to get a job done. Which lead to my next strength with is Transformational leadership. In order to implement this one must lead by example in order to inspire others. I also believe in being completely transparency and honesty with all team members as well as incorporating self-actualization and personal growth into all aspects of team building and leadership. While I certainly do not believe in making change for change's sake... If I am given directions from above (executive) that need to be implemented, rather than complaining I look for ways to put into practice the desired change in a way that best suits our section and my staff.
Team / Shared leadership is another example of my strengths. Currently I work with a team of highly professional staff and I constantly seek their input and let them know that I value their contributions. As Bandura points out,."..belief in their capabilities to master activities affects their aspirations, their level of interest in activities, and their accomplishments" (1994. p.130).This makes it possible for me to delegate tasks to the staff so that I can rely on them to get the job done. I expect that if they encounter a problem that they won't just come to me with the problem, but with a number of solutions at the same time. I also believe in providing top cover to my staff and supporting them in any way that I can. This leads to another aspect of leadership and perhaps one of the most important that the Navy has taught me is to be Ethical and Honest. I try to always be as upfront and straight forward as possible while acting in a professional manner. This is one of the most critical areas where one must lead by example. (Goleman, 2000, p.78).
As a teacher and educator one of the most critical styles is that of Instructional Leadership. This is probably one style of leadership that fully captures the way I lead and interact with my peers & staff. Here is where I implement fully the idea of a "teachable point-of-view" (Cohen & Tichy, 1997). In that aspect I also try to be a Visionary leader who can see the large picture and find traceable and achievable steps in order to get there.
As far as supervisory or managerial techniques that I already use, currently I employ a slightly annotated model of the GROW method when doing any coaching or trying to teach new staff as well. As stated the stages go as follows:
Goal setting, short-term and long-term.
Reality checking to explore the current situation.
Options and alternative strategies for the desired outcomes.
What is to be done, when, by whom, and the will to do it? (Whitmore, 2002)
However, there are some drawback to having had a military background as leader, I can come on to strong, and as mentioned previously, be too much of a know it all. I know that I need to focus more on people's abilities and not their deficits. But not to ignore those deficits and hope that they go away but to, "Emphasize the strategic importance of shoring up the particular weakness. Describe the cost, to him, of continuing to neglect that ability. And minimize the pain as much as you can" (Raffoni, 2002, p. 4). I would also like to be able to focus on the positive, what is working in a situation rather than dwelling on the negative or what has gone wrong.. One of the things that I know is that as a culture, "We are obsessed with learning from our mistakes" (Hammond, 1998, p. 9).
Our section has been maintaining the status quo for the past two years mostly due to the fact we have not had a permanent Head Teacher during that time. All of the previous Acting Head Teachers have not wanted to make any major changes or to 'rock the boat' in their capacity as the care taker. However, thanks to my military training and having held numerous strategic leadership roles in the past, I can see a number of things that need to be changed to carry us as an effective teaching section into the future. I am planning to refocus the staff, and get them out of the rut that they are currently in. I am planning to start off with a few small changes and progressively get larger. If everything works as expected I will hopefully turn the section around over the next 3-6 months.
Putting all this to work in the classroom is also an important concept. Aside from leading my section it is imperative that and my team are using their skill as leader effectively. There are many techniques that compliment these leadership strategies in the classroom. One such technique is Guided Practice. The research literature has consistently stressed the importance of appropriate amounts of guided practice for all learners, but nowhere is this guided practice more important than with low achievers. It has been noted that "The important element seems to be the provision of controlled practice with positive teacher feedback." The fact that certain members of the class will require more guided practice than others suggests that each lesson should contain a certain amount of time in which the higher-achieving students are working on independent practice, while the teacher is working closely with low achieving students on guided practice. (Hofmiester & Lubke, 1999, p 32) the emphasis here is on "positive teacher feedback" and the ability to allot more guided time to students that require it and more independent time to those that have more of a mastery over the subject. The goal of all guided practice is to allow the student to feel the sense of accomplishment they have when becoming independent and completing problems unassisted.
Another example would be Monitoring Concepts. These concepts are as simple as recording everyday observations, to the complex procedures of standardized tests. The daily monitoring of students and notations of behaviors as well as academic progress is critically important in the classroom. "The two major purposes of academic monitoring are closely related: the attainment of student goals and the progressive improvement of instructional practices." (Hofmiester & Lubke, 1999, p 112) the teacher must also monitor his or her progress as well to assure the highest standards of academic excellence. This creates a fountain of ongoing feedback for both student and teacher.
It is also important as a leader to set universal feedback strategies so that they are applied effective and efficiently throughout the class. The following guideline presents four feedback strategies and…[continue]
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