OKTOY Blog: Leading is not managing

Wednesday, Oct. 29 marked my first official speaking engagement as Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year. I was honored to be invited by the Oklahoma Association of Secondary School Principals (OASSP) to speak about the importance of school leadership at their fall conference in Oklahoma City.

Leading a school has much in common with guiding an individual classroom. Some classrooms have teachers who are excellent managers. Their day is governed by a set of rules and procedures intended to produce desired outcomes. Students who feel like they are being managed usually meet the required objectives but are often left uninspired and unchanged by their time in that class. On the other hand, some teachers are leaders rather than managers. Their students are inspired and engaged within the learning process. These teachers are not driven by procedures but by purpose. They live out their purpose in front of and alongside their students. School leaders can often be lumped into the same categories: managers and leaders.

To be a teacher is hard. As an avid runner I liken teaching to an endurance race. There are times on the run that all seems to be going well, your legs feel great, positive self-talk abounds and the road seems to be slightly downhill. Then there are times that your legs feel like lead, your mind seems to shout you can’t and the road is uphill with a headwind. Teaching can be that way. Some days are awesome and beyond enjoyable, while others can make the best of us want to throw in the towel. Teachers need true leaders in those moments. They need leaders to come alongside them and inspire them to press on, to encourage them that the struggle now will be worth it in the end.

Leaders develop relationships, using their influence to impact other people’s lives for the better. When a teacher who is having a hard time seeks help from someone who is more of a manager, that teacher may feel even more discouraged if the answer to the problem is just a bunch of policies and procedures. To be a leader is to lead people. My challenge to everyone at the OASSP conference and readers of this blog is to honestly ask yourself this: “Am I managing or am I leading?”

By: Jason Proctor
2015 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year




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Last updated on November 6, 2014