2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator

2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator

Sunday, September 15, 2013


In the seventeen years I've been teaching at the same high school, I've had three superintendents, eight head principals, and too many associate principals to count.  I should have abandonment issues.  When I think about how unstable a teacher's job really is, I am sometimes tempted to crawl into the fetal position and rock while sobbing.  That's hyperbole, by the way; I'm not entirely sure that I could actually arrange my body into the fetal position.



With each new leader, whether it's at the district or building level, comes a new-and-improved great idea, and believe me, THIS time it's going to make a big difference for everyone.  I have learned to filter out the details and get right to the point, "How is this good for kids?"  If any leader can satisfactorily answer that question with a minimum amount of bullshit and a maximum amount of know-how, I will gladly follow him or her.  If the answer comes with a whole lot of bluster, and I sense very little preparedness, I throw down the gauntlet.

The best leader I've ever known in my district began or ended every conversation with me by saying, "What can I do to help you as a teacher?"  Whenever I gave him an answer, and I always did, he would honestly tell me whether he could give me what I wanted or not.  We sometimes didn't agree, but he always did his homework, and he always welcomed my challenges when I didn't agree with him.  That's a leader.

The primary responsibility of a leader is to take care of those she leads.  The secondary responsibility is to create as many potential leaders as possible.  A true leader raises up the people who follow her, encouraging them to take more responsibility, learn, and grow.

Recently our Administrator of Technology Integration took a job as a Blended Learning Consultant for an educational consulting group.  She could have left us in the lurch, as some leaders have done, but she didn't.  She kept us informed, and she has continued to ask what she can do to help us develop our Blended Learning program in the district.  We realized when she left that she has given us the necessary tools to continue the vision of moving the district forward with technology integration.  Thank you, Stacy, for all of your leadership.  She made us want to step up and lead, and that is just what we have done.  As a matter of fact, I'd like to be the first to announce on this blog that our new Technology Integration Coach is. . .Christina Hamman, whom you know as The Math Teacher on this blog.  Christina has many exciting ideas to move us forward, and she is making good on our commitment to district leadership.


[caption id="attachment_239" align="alignnone" width="300"]t_shirt_slave_driver-r8543e04fd8ab4d7aab229c484c31b5dd_804gs_324 This is the t shirt we are making her wear when she visits our classes.[/caption]

Christina is smart, driven, and responsible.  She has earned the respect of her students and colleagues.  She will ask us what we need to be better teachers, and if she can make it happen, she will.  She will challenge teachers to learn with the students and to think about their needs.

A teacher is that kind of leader.  I,too, want to begin or end every conversation I have with my students by asking, "What can I do to help you grow as a student?"  I want to listen to their answers and give them what they want if it will help them.  I want my students to challenge me.  If I can't answer the question, "How is this good for kids?' about anything I do, then I shouldn't be doing it.  If I do my job correctly, my students will be future leaders who will raise up those they lead.


Stephani Itibrout

Blended Learning Rhetoric and Composition

Follow me on Twitter @itibrout

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