Educators: Stop Looking; Start Seeing

As humans, we naturally seek social interactions with like-minded individuals. Clearly, social networks thrive because of this instinct. For me, and educators around the world, social networking provides us with a large Professional Learning Network where we can test ideas, ferret out thoughts, and make connections outside our own schools and institutions.

One of the greatest benefits to professional social networking, also known as Professional Learning Networks, is that it readily helps me to connect the dots or bind together the threads of information I find in my various readings. I admit that I have never been much of a pleasure reader. But I do love skimming a variety of media types for information including newspapers, magazines, blogs, wikis, and tweets to name just a few.

Recently, I can across the following tweet in my feed:

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While this tweet was one of hundreds that my network put out that day, and could have easily been whisked on and off my radar, it grabbed my attention. Why? Well, the quote help me connect the dots between my emerging thoughts on educational leadership and a USA Today article I read back in June entitled “Avon CEO likes to see with fresh eyes.”

In this article, corporate management reporter Del Jones asked Avon’s C.E.O., Andrea Jung, a series of questions regarding her tenure at Avon over the past 10 years and specifically about the current economic climate. The following caught my attention:

Q: What else has this recession taught you?
A: Reinvent yourself first before you reinvent your company. This is one unusual environment, and I'm lucky that I didn't have to go through this my first year. There are pros and cons of experience. A con is that you can't look at the business with a fresh pair of eyes and as objectively as if you were a new CEO. Fire yourself on a Friday night and come in on Monday morning as if a search firm put you there as a turn-around leader. Can you be objective and make the bold change? If you can't, then you haven't reinvented yourself. If you can, then you can have a decade of tenure that is like having different jobs. I'm not the same leader I was even last year, because those skills have rendered themselves not as useful. I've had to reinvent myself every year.

I believe that the idea of reinventing yourself is the key to change in educational leadership. If our educational leaders would fire themselves on Friday and return on Monday with a fresh set of eyes regarding change they just might be able to reinvent their schools. For, as Thoreau put it, “it’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

Tomorrow morning when you get to school, what will you see?