Leadership is an infinite journey to learning and reaffirming all the expected or unexpected phenomenon in life. Leadership is not about position or status, rather it is a great opportunity to serve, whether to people, mission or vision. To make the world a better place and to give others opportunity to reach their potential. The world is too big and too complicated for a single person to be in charged. A school organization needs a collaborative culture and distributive leadership approach to empower everyone to strive for a better future together. Leading a community of learners required intentionality, authenticity, and various approaches to collaboration that involved everyone who will be affected by the decisions being made.
Since the beginning of my fellowship, I was enrolled in the academic program that will potentially enable me to earn required credential that ultimately allow me to practice K-12 school administration. Through many theory courses and exercises, I thought I was prepared for the real world. Little did I know that the real world, school based, experiences were drastically different than some of the theories or exercises I have done in the classrooms. It reaffirms to me that when working with children and adults in school, one of the most important aspects of leadership is building and sustaining a positive relationship. Intentionality and authenticity are a vehicle to break down silent, barriers, and suspicion. The absence of it could make the work of school administration very challenging.
In late August, I had opportunity to enter a school building to pursue my school administrative internship hours. It is the experience that I cherished greatly. Through my interaction with students and adults, it makes me realize that everything in life is interconnected. Everyone see things and perceive them to create their own perception. Our daily interaction is based on relationship. Seeing things through the lens of school principal is very different than looking at things from the angle of students, parents, staff, or teaches. It was a humbling experience to shadow and learn from a school principal who was a former Bush Fellow. It is reaffirming to me that the essence of effective leadership is through service, authenticity, and intentionality. The willingness to listen and accepting to the differences is the very essence of distributive and servant leadership. While I was working with students from different grades and different demographic, it makes me realize that every family wants nothing, but the very best for their children. Sometimes students intentionally do things that they are not supposed to simply to get attention from adults around them. It is easy to penalize them, but penalizing students without giving them opportunity to learn is gravely dangerous. Being an administrative intern allowed me to see a specific issue from different lens and perspectives, various angles to ensure that everyone's perspective is value and considered in making informed decision.
Working as an admin intern in a school building has broaden my perspective greatly. I have been working outside of the school buildings in the past nine years or so and returning to a school has been an eyes opening experience. It helps me connect with things from different angles. In the past few years it seems like I was working in silo. Oftentimes, I would look at things and do things from the lens that I'm comfortable, without realizing that I need help. Since the school year started, from September to the end of October, I believe that my daily experience in school operation has prepared me to become effective school administrator. In our democratic society, building a strong individual through education is essentially important. My utmost appreciation goes to teachers, staff and administrators who support the learning, character building and goal setting for all students, regardless of their differences. A strong nation needs an educated forces and a strong community needs a strong schools. My lifelong goal remains the same. I want to be part of a solution to continue strengthen a strong democratic society through supporting a strong community, region and nation through public education. Now, when I talk to my colleagues, I become more attentive to explore different perspectives.
As someone working in a diverse community like Saint Paul Public Schools, it is critically important to equip with a leadership skill that see things from different lens and take into consideration the diverse perspectives in the decision making process. Realizing that every decision has, more or less, positive or negative affect on every stakeholder, incorporating diverse voices in the decision making process is the essence of democratic process. When talking to bilingual staff from school buildings, I allow myself to listen and understand other point of views. In addition, when I work with community partners, I practice intentionality and value everyone's thoughtful inputs and suggestions. Building and sustaining a positive relationship demand respect and by showing respect to others, I am able to gain and regain trust and friendship.
With everything that going on in life, one might ask where do I find time to pause and rejuvenate. Every situation that I am in and everything that I am doing, it wouldn't be possible without the support of my family. Having a time for selfcare is critically important. A process to leadership development can be exhausting and energy draining. Without allocating time for selfcare or setting aside time for reflection, it would be impossible to be productive. There are three aspects of life in which I constantly turn to. They are building and sustaining physical health, spiritual health and relational health. For physical health, I try to make a habit of going to the gym and exercise. In the last couple of months, things have been a bit rough with my personal and professional schedules. The chaotic of daily routines has kept me away from getting to the gym. I feel like being inactive physically has negatively affect me emotionally.
Making a habit of going to church and connecting with others has been a positive mechanism to cope with emotional setbacks. Although I do not consider myself as a very religious person, those sermons from weekend services have infused positivity and guided me to be a person that embodies compassion and kindness. It infuses in me a desire to look at the world in a positive light. Lastly, I take the aspect of relational health very seriously. For example, I would leave my weekend schedule empty and not having anything formally planned as I am hoping to spend unplanned and quality time with my family. For example, on Saturday morning, my family would get up from bed whenever we feel like and made hot breakfast together. Sometimes unplanned activities turn out to be the best experience. And I am hoping to create a positive memory for my now 18 months old daughter.
The fellowship is very rewarding, but at times it takes a toll on me. The process of developing my personal leadership has kept me away from some of the things I used to do. For example, my commitment in school has limited my ability to actively engage in community activities. There are things that I am longing and yearning to reconnect in a more deeper level, direct engagement. Those who I have worked closely with in the community understand my situation and they encourage me to commit to this project. I am encouraged; however, I couldn't wait to complete my study so that I can invest more time to support my community. For now, I try to find comfort in the future rewards that I will be able to bring to my community. Simply taking one step back to ultimately continue two steps ahead. It will be just a matter of time and I cannot wait for the day I have more tools and skills to effectively execute my leadership capacity. Until then I will be persistent in my effort.