Leaders Need Opportunities to Learn.

Recently I followed a twitter conversation about principals speaking at conferences instead of leading in their schools. My question since reading and reflecting on the post and comments is ‘Why does it have to be one or the other?’

I love my school, I pull into the parking lot everyday and look forward to what lies ahead. My school position holds two unique programs: we are the only public kindergarten program in the district (so all 400 kindergarten students come to our school) and we also offer families a choice between two different school calendars-a ‘year round’ and ‘traditional’. What that means is the school secretary and I serve students, staff and families from August 1st to mid June (equating to about 200 student contact days between both calendars).

March has always been a bit challenging for me in this position. Our year round calendar staff, students and families are into their 2nd three week break of the year while the rest of the student body is still in session.

This March however I had the opportunity to spend two days in Fergus Falls, Minnesota as a principal facilitator for the Minnesota Principal Academy . The unit I was chosen for completely stretched my skill sets. Unit 5: Leadership in the Instructional Core Part 1: Language Arts and History gave me opportunities to read research about instructional practices and ask questions of middle and high school teachers to prepare to teach the content. I was able to spend two days engaging in conversations with principals 4 1/2 hours from where I lead, and I learned a ton.

So yes I was out of the building, yes I was facilitating a workshop with other principals, but I was also learning. Monday I will pull into the school parking lot with an energy I haven’t had in a few weeks. I am excited to connect with teachers about what I learned from other elementary principals, to share information with secondary administrators, and was even texting central office staff while I was there about tools I was hearing about for possible implementation back home.

Whenever I go somewhere to speak, consult or facilitate I always feel like I have gotten more from the participants than I have given them.

I am grateful to work in a district that allows administrators opportunities to learn and connect with other leaders. I enjoy having opportunities to attend/present at conferences when I can connect with other leaders of early learning and learn from their leadership. I continue to be humbled whenever a published author takes time to meet with me after a session to answer questions or help me dig deeper into concepts they have researched, and most importantly I return back to my school a better leader than when I left.

If I would have commented on the discussion, my concern wouldn’t be about leadership that continues to find ways to learn…it would be for the leaders who never leave their office or seat.


looking for opportunities to grow as a leader as well?


3 thoughts on “Leaders Need Opportunities to Learn.

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  1. I’m 100 percent with you on this. As a principal, I always return to my school energized, full of solutions and ideas, and better able to lead when I have the opportunity to learn with others outside of my school. Collaboration with peers is how we expect our kids and teachers to learn, so how are leaders any different?


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