Wanted: Aspiring Leaders


The phrase ‘aspiring leaders’ – seems to be a phrase used by the incumbent leaders to describe those teachers who are demonstrating innovation and passion about their role as both a teacher and a learner in schools – and have been elevated as having potential to be a future leader.

This is often what we read in institutional newletters. “So and so has been awarded as the …” complete with nervous looking photo opportunity, which is often remarkably indifferent from long service or even retirement reports.

It seems some what presumptuous to assume that these people can only be called leaders at the discretion of the incumbent leaders of learning. Akin to being anointed or given a badge of office, the opportunities to be placed in this spotlight misrepresent the depth and number of teachers who are already leaders within the common interest groups (CIGs).

Contrasting ‘Aspirational Leaders’ with Common Interest Groups (CIGs) helps illustrate the gap between the incumbent leaders and the self organising, self determining leaders who we generalise as being active in the ‘Edublog’ CIGs.

CIGs overlap, intersect and deliver interoperability for participants. This is what continually drives them, as there is always something new, something to diversify into or just to learn about.

An example of a CIG in action this week can be further illustrated. We are looking at ePortfolios  at Macquarie University. This is part of the ‘innovation to integration’ educational portfolio.

I spoke to Allison Miller – a leading expert in my CIG. Allison’s research into ePorfolios in Delicious makes the process faster, more focused and easier for the whole development team. Allison is leading by proxy.

To me, there is a stark contrast between permissive leadership attainment in school communities and social leadership attainment through CIGs.

Incumbent leaders need to demonstrate far greater understanding and willingness to accept CIG leadership as not only vital but a significant attainment as professional development as a 21C Educator. Supporting them is the action that is needed, not ignoring them.

To me, leading learning is a combination of experience, passion, practice, skills, passion, work ethic and connectedness. The very skills many educational leaders talk about as things students need to learn … but are not effectively recognising in teachers.

When educational leaders ask (perhaps rhetorical) questions such as ‘how to we encourage and retain leaders?’ – reply, “You have them, you are just not using effective criteria to recognise it’.

This to me is one of the biggest issues that Australian teachers should be raising with thier ‘leaders’.

One thought on “Wanted: Aspiring Leaders

  1. Oh Dean you must have been a fly on the wall today in a long meeting I had with my boss. Yes recognition is one thing and then there is fittiing within the constantly shrinking budget of a school which has to employ youth over experience and hand roles based on costs more than what is the best educational outcomes. Yep I feel burned and am venting .

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