Table of Contents
Who Are We as Leaders? - Reflections on the September 16-17, 2022 NCSLA Fellows Meeting
Leadership can be such a strange thing! Imagine trying to pull together a widely diverse group of people, getting them all in one accord, and completing a series of complex tasks! Leadership work is certainly not for the faint of heart, and many professionals opt-out of leadership roles for this very reason! Regardless, leadership is an integral part of every organization, and science education is no exception! In many ways, science educators step into leadership work on day 1, whether we know it or not! We must gain the trust of our students, show them that we can facilitate their learning experiences, and model for them the skills and practices that will guide them to proficiency in our courses of study. The goal is to lead our classroom unit to academic success while validating each of our students’ unique talents and abilities, thus allowing them to hone their own leadership skills through the lens of the content. The classroom becomes an impromptu space for leadership skill development, but what happens when the science educator is tasked with leading beyond the classroom? When leading other science professionals becomes the next step, where do these educators turn? Thankfully, the NCSLA Fellows program provides a safe space where science educators can collaborate with colleagues, experience top-tier leadership training, and build a network of science education leaders from across the state. I have had the privilege of taking part in the 2022-2024 cohort of Fellows, and it has been nothing short of an eye-opening, humbling, and gratifying experience! This past weekend, the Fellows engaged in a professional learning experience in Durham, N.C. We arrived Friday night, chatted about the start of our school years, and reflected with Pat Shane about the change process. I particularly remember Dr. Shane highlighting how a leader must identify and win over the “critical mass” within a group to make change happen. She reminded us that change takes time, and that the successful leader understands that change is an intentional and well-planned process.
Mr. Brad Rhew and Dr. Alisa Wickliff engaged the group in a work-styles activity in which we used shapes to represent our “work personality”. This exercise resonated heavily with me as I realized that my work personality was being severely impacted by the people with whom I work! Dr. Wickliff reminded us that our work personality can vary based on the team, the task, and even the time of day! Both facilitators helped the Fellows to reflect on past and present experiences as they relate to our work personalities. I appreciate how reflection is always intentionally interwoven with every activity completed in our meetings. I strongly believe that every educator should be a reflective practitioner!
Day two of our meeting consisted of unpacking our Myers- Briggs Personality Test data. We found out that our Fellows cohort is made up of a wide variety of personalities! We also learned that Dr. Shane is an E30! (This is the highest level of extrovert!) We spent intentional time thinking about how our results can inform the interactions we have with our peers and the teams that we lead. Thinking back, I learned a lot about myself this weekend and had time to unpack how my personality impacts the people whom I lead and serve. I have charged myself with taking this learning and using it for good in my leadership roles, and I am confident that the other Fellows will do the same!
-Jennifer Redfearn, NCSLA Fellow 2022-2024
How do you approach leadership? Is it a carefully planned, delicately executed series of movements likened to a ballet dancer, or is it carefully planned, strategically and emphatically like a skilled chess player? It may even be another analogy, but regardless, being a leader is an art, one that takes practice, reflection, and constant revision. On September 16-17th, the current cohort of NCSLA Leadership Fellows convened in Durham, NC to practice, reflect, and revise our own understanding and styles of leadership.
Having already studied the effects of cause and effect in executing change (The Change Game) and identifying ourselves by compass directions, we broadened our leadership toolbox this weekend by using a Psychogeometric assessment to further describe our personalities as a leader, and spending a lot of time diving deeper into the Myers-Brigg Assessment (MBTI) itself. We self-evaluated our MBTI ratings, and then were guided through an analysis of our assessment results with Kendall Hageman-Mays who is a certified MBTI leader. I think I speak for all of my fellow Fellows when I say we came away with a better understanding of ourselves, our colleagues, and positive and negative situations we have encountered in our various roles as human beings in a diverse population.
In the spirit of the Fellowship program, we applied our understandings of personality types, strengths and weaknesses to various problems we might face as educational leaders. Each fellow, and the NCSLA leaders (Brad Rhew, Pat Shane, Alisa Wickliff) who attended and facilitated our time in Durham contributed positively to ensure that on our respective drives home we had plenty to think about. Until next time, we will be learning about ourselves, working to become more effective in our roles as service leaders, and helping our colleagues understand themselves and their roles on a deeper level.
We spent a fair amount of time learning about our Fall Summit and the NCSTA PDI coming up in a few weeks in Winston Salem. If you see a fellow or two, ask them if they are a rectangle, square, circle, triangle, or a squiggle!
-Jessica Parker, NCSLA Fellow, 2022-2024 Cohort