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  • Heather Frank

Living Differently as Literacy Leaders

I have a confession to make. Sometimes it was easier to take cover in the classroom than it was to assume the role of an informal leader. I used my position as a teacher to excuse my inaction. I told myself that it wasn’t my responsibility. It wasn’t my place. It wouldn’t be well received.

I crafted a vision of a leader as someone in a formal position. Someone who had the power to make large-scale decisions. Someone who had access to resources and people. Someone with a larger-than-life personality.

I told myself I was just a teacher.

And despite what I told myself, my gut didn’t believe it. Deep down I felt an urging to step outside my classroom and connect with other educators. To support students who were no longer or who had never been in my class. To share what worked and didn’t work with teachers. To ask questions. To wrestle with ideas and concepts and lessons together. To swap stories of successes, breakthroughs, frustrations, and heartbreaks. Where might we begin?

In the beginning of last school year, I visited my teammate Laura in an elementary school. I watched wide-eyed as she taught students one way they might set reading goals. She modeled and encouraged the children to identify a reading habit, think about how they wanted to live differently as readers this year, and set actionable goals for themselves.

As I thought about this lesson just the other day, I imagined how we, as leaders, might adapt these questions. I invite you to ask yourself:

  1. What type of leader am I?

  2. How might I live differently this school year?

  3. What actionable goal can help me live differently?

As Laura did with the young readers in the classroom, I will share my thinking with you:

  • I am the type of leader who doesn’t like a lot of attention and who tends to share my ideas with people with whom I know well.

  • I want to be the kind of leader who feels more comfortable sharing my questions and learnings with educators and researchers outside my immediate professional circle.

  • I commit to being open to experiences where I might share my learning and ask questions of others.

I encourage you to consider these three questions so that we might begin to live differently as literacy leaders.

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