I call myself a Lead Learner. Yes, I am officially a PreK-5 principal, but what I do is lead learning. But what does that mean?
In a recent email from an anonymous colleague, I introduced myself as the lead learner of East Side Elementary School rather than the principal. In the response at the end of the email, this individual asked, “Would you clarify the role of the lead learner.” Well of course. So here was my response:
I am pleased that you asked for more clarification regarding a lead learner. My official role is as principal of the East Side Elementary School, but I consider myself a lead learner.
There are three keys to maximizing impact a principal can do, as Michael Fullan states, the role of the principal is a:
1. Agent of Change
2. Systems Player
3. Leading Learning or Lead Learner
As the lead learner, I model and shape the conditions for all to learn. I learn alongside my teachers.
For instance, we moved to a Responsive Classroom philosophy that has dramatically improved our culture and I was trained alongside my teachers so I, as the lead learner, can have sustainability in the program. We are being trained in PBL. I will be at that three day training so I can sustain the outcomes and learning for the staff and students.
It is a new way of thinking about the role of the principal. There are a bunch of us that are calling ourselves lead learners. It’s also about building professional capital. Our staff and teachers can be lead learners too. My recommendation, get Michael Fullan’s book The Principal. It’s a must for ALL principals. I hope that gives you a snapshot of what a lead learner is. We need too move from administrator to Lead Learner. Even better Connected Lead Learner’s.
I haven’t heard back as of yet, but wanted to meet and talk about it further about my journey as a lead learner. As stated, this is a shift in philosophy and a new way in looking at school leadership. Michael Fullan has a great visual noted here:
Move from principal to lead learner. Build the professional capital of your staff. Give them the autonomy and the power to make decisions that are best for kiddos. Bring in your parents and systems not only within the the school, but throughout the district as well as the community and region. And let go of, “But that is the way we always did it.” That is not change leadership. This is not easy and believe you me, I have a lot to do, but in the end, it is best for kids. Isn’t that what it’s about?