Management vs. Leadership

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On Thursday, I read a blog post by George Couros, the author of The Innovator’s Mindset.  In it, he revisits (he originally wrote about this topic in 2011) the idea of moving from “classroom management” to “classroom leadership.”  In 2016, I began thinking about, re-evaluating currently held beliefs, and developing my own ideas around leadership vs. management through my coursework for my Administration and Supervision certification.  George validates my thinking when he paraphrases Stephen Covey, “you manage things, but we lead people.”  How true that is! People don’t want to be managed.  This is true for adults and children, alike.  Instead, if a person is inspired, they will do great things.  They will want to do great things!

As I reflect on this topic, here are a few things I believe:

  • People, in general, will rise to the expectations set before them.  It doesn’t matter if we are the leader of a school or the leader in a classroom, if we believe in the people around us (no matter how young they are), they will rise up!
  • We need to be cognizant of the language we use.  If we are always sending messages of deficit thinking, our students will internalize and believe that about themselves.  Wouldn’t it be better if we sent messages of affirmation instead?  Children will internalize those positive affirmations and will be inspired to do great things!  Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 11.58.18 AM
  • We have to be willing to re-frame our thinking.  And maybe even to change it.  Does the word “teacher” equate to an adult standing in front of the classroom sharing their knowledge day in and day out?  Or could the word “teacher” equate to an adult learning beside his/her students through the facilitation of active learning opportunities? Does “learning” equate to students receiving the messages the teacher is sending verbally (i.e. the content and curriculum)? Or could “learning” equate to students actively constructing their own meaning of the content in a way that works for them (creating, reading, writing, viewing videos, etc.)?  Is it necessary for a classroom to have desks set in rows, inhibiting conversations amongst peers (great for management)? Or, could classrooms become places of discourse and hubs for the empowerment of students (building leadership)?

As parents, our legacy is not just how we raise our children, it is what our children become because of the way we raised them.  If my children are inspired to give back to this world in some way, if they go out and do great things, I will consider my parenting a success. The same holds true for our other “kids.”  The children that walk through the doors of our classrooms and schools on a daily basis.  Our legacy as educators does not lie in what we do in our classrooms every day, it is in what our students do as a result.

©2018 by Dawn Little for My Learning Life. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.


The Storyteller’s Project/Proyecto del Cuentista Lesson #1

Our first lesson in The Storyteller’s Project revolved around collections.

First, I read aloud The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman.  We discussed how the Grandfather collected memories in matchboxes.

Next, students created heart maps.  Heartmaps provide an opportunity for students to make a map of all the things that are in IMG_3199their heart, all the things that matter to them.  The heart map was developed by Georgia Heard as a way to collect ideas that are rooted in memory and experience.  We made a connection between the Grandfather’s collection and students’ collections of ideas on their heart map.

I also gave students their writer’s notebooks and read aloud “What is a Writer’s Notebook Anyway?” from A Writer’s Notebook by Ralph Fletcher.  We finished the lesson by determining that the writer’s notebook is the perfect place to collect ideas for writing.



©2018 by Dawn Little for My Learning Life. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

This I Believe

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 4.43.26 PMAs I head back to school today on this second day of 2018, I go with hope and a renewed sense of purpose.  Over winter break, I had the opportunity to reflect and re-imagine.  I thought about what I want to accomplish personally in 2018 and developed my goals. And, I thought about what I believe when it comes to my work in teaching and learning.

I begin this new year with these core beliefs:

  • I believe that all children deserve to go to a school where they feel safe and secure for the six hours they are there.
  • I believe that all children deserve to feel respected and to have their voice heard.
  • I believe that learning and teaching should be fun!
  • I believe that teachers “know best” pedagogical practices; not politicians, bureaucrats, or school boards.
  • I believe that relationships come first; teaching and learning come second.
  • I believe that all children deserve to hear a book read aloud to them every day.
  • I believe that all children should have access to an abundant and diverse classroom library (and school library).
  • I believe that it is the responsibility of educators to remove barriers, so that all students have access to an equitable education.
  • I believe that all children deserve to participate in authentic learning, not canned curriculum.

This I believe.





Anything for Professional Development

img_0005I love to learn.  I love to teach, but, I really love to learn.  I think that’s why I’m constantly busy. . . I’m always trying new things, and want to learn new things.  I just completed my Administration and Supervision certification. Boy, did I learn from those classes and my internship!  When I began teaching I had no desire to go into administration.  I still don’t, but I sure did love taking the classes and learning about the many facets of administration.  Anything for professional development.

I tell you this about me, because I may be a little late to the party, but I just recently realized that podcasts are my “new classes.”  Over the course of my drive to and from the gym/school/home, I have listened to all of The Nerdy Bookcast (a part of The Nerdy Bookclub) and all of The Yarn (by librarian Travis Jonker and teacher Colby Sharp). While I’m anxiously awaiting the new seasons of both of these podcasts, I’m listening to the likes of Simon Sinek, Gretchen Rubin, and Daniel Pink.  See. . . constantly learning.  I’m soaking in all they have to offer on my commute each morning and evening.  And.  I.  Love.  It.

I’ve learned about new authors and their books to share with students and teachers at school.  I’ve learned about the inner workings of how a book is put together — the process, the artwork, the editorial pieces, the marketing.  All so interesting to me!  Just this morning, I learned about Gretchen Rubin’s work on habits and how to use habits to create your own happiness.  Hmm. . . Sounds a lot like living with intention to me.

So, as I drive to the gym tomorrow morning, I’m going to continue on this journey I’ve started of discovery both for myself and others.  Because I love to teach, but, I really love to learn.

Connecting Students to Books

I’m participating in the Book Love Foundation Podcast Summer Study Session and week 1 (which was last week, mind you!) was about connecting students to books.  I’m also participating in an online book club where a group of us are reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.   In order to organize my thinking for both, I’m going to write more here at My Learning Life.  As you can see I’ve been a bit remiss in creating content consistently.  I hope to take some time every day to reflect on my learning life and share a little bit of it with you all.

Connecting Students to Books – Reflection on Week 1

In order to connect as humans, we need literature.  Literature helps us think, reflect, empathize, and see others’ perspectives.  So as educators, it is so important for us to share quality literature with our students; to immerse them in quality reading experiences.  I worked hard tokids reading do that when I was in the classroom.  The classroom library was the heart of our classroom.  I read aloud to students every day, we discussed books in small teacher facilitated groups every day, students participated in student facilitated literature circles every day, and students had an opportunity for choice, independent reading every day, though at that time (late 90’s) I did not confer with them about their reading, nor did I realize the importance of doing so.

Flash forward to my current position, Staff Development Teacher.  All of those books now have a home in my office.  I still have a classroom library, only this time the books are to connect with teachers (so that ultimately they connect them with students).  I am passionate about developing a passion within teachers and ultimately students.  I provide book talks at monthly staff meetings; when teachers are planning in my office, I suggest mentor texts they might want to consider.  Just the other day, we were working on our action steps for our School Improvement Plan in our Leadership meeting, and I suggested that one way we might monitor progress is by sitting side-by-side with our students as they read.

We have to make reading the center of every classroom.  This is where my work is still in progress.  What are some other ways I might be able to connect teachers with books so that they connect them with students?  While, it was the center of my classroom and I passionately believe that it should be the center of every classroom in a school, it is now my job to model and coach teachers around this idea.  So, as we embark on a new school year in a few weeks, I plan to make that one of my goals for the school year.

My core belief. . .

I believe that students need access to high quality literature every day, so I will coach and model the importance of a classroom library, the importance of the read aloud, and the importance of connecting students with books. 

©2016 by Dawn Little for My Learning Life. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.