It was only in the last few days that I have been thinking about being a leader and what that is. Upon undertaking this year I have been given the responsibility of the ICT coordinator role but does this make me a leader? More so is a ‘leader’ that easily defined? Can you lead without being a leader? A quick Google tells me the following definitions:
Coordinate: Bring the different elements of (a complex activity or organization) into a relationship that will ensure efficiency or harmony.
Leading: A person followed by others.
Leader: Cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc., while moving forward.
The definition for coordinate suggests that I do not have to lead but really I am there to collect everyone’s different ICT areas (I guess planning, teaching, assessing to name a few) and ensure they are efficient and that they compliment each other. Now obviously this is a part of my role and it is the predominant part but I think most people would argue that I should also be an example to others who are not coordinating the subject. This is then where the definition for ‘leading’ comes into play. Finally, ‘leader’ is my favourite definition and the idea of holding others by the hand whilst moving forward in terms of the uses of technological innovation; I think this is an incredibly difficult part of the job but probably the most important.
I can be leading in my subject area, working hard to keep up-to-date with the latest innovations and trying to establish them within my classroom and teaching but I wouldn’t say this makes me a leader. To be a leader I feel I need to actively try and influence those around me, extending to others the opportunities to try the things that I am trying and offering their classes the same experiences as my own.
Recently I had a tough decision to make about leading ICT in my school. We currently are not allowed to spend any money due to budget cuts and a lot of the paperwork and systems that are in place have been so for a few years and need updating. Having spent a lot of time using and reviewing the current systems I sent an email to my HT listing extensively the problems we currently had and proposing solutions. This in itself does not seem like such as big deal but knowing that I was reporting incidents of staff not doing what they should be and equipment not being stored as it should have been. In the end I decided that for the children to get the best learning opportunities I needed to raise the issues and hope that it didn’t seem like I was making trouble. The other staff members could not use the equipment effectively so there was no point in my promoting the use of such technologies within the classroom when it was making even myself, who loves to make the most of the tech, on the verge of despair. Following the email the DH spoke to me and arranged for me to have some time out of the classroom to go through the ICT Suite with her and our Technician and clear it out which solved a number of the problems. I don’t think that this is particularly leading behaviour in terms of my role of ICT co-ordinator, however, I do think it is part of being a Leader and having to fight for my subject.
I guess that the end of these ramblings is the idea that there are two distinct differences between leading and being a leader, as well as, another area which is being a coordinator. I am currently trying to juggle the 3, as I’m sure every subject leader has to, but the act is not without its own pressures. I think that especially within the ICT Coordinator role these aspects are clearly defined:
- Coordinating – working with others to ensure ICT opportunities and experiences are consistent throughout school
- Leading – modelling how to use ICT technologies in specific lessons and across the curriculum to inspire others
- Being a Leader – reflecting and reviewing current procedures and practices as a way to promote change
The ‘Being a Leader’ role is frequently the most tricky part of the position but I think that it is the one which is most crucial to providing your school with a curriculum which offers the children the best opportunities. Sending that one email was not the last of it, arguably it was just the beginning of a process that is never ending but I did feel liberated once it was complete. Whether or not anything comes of it, I had tried to make a difference, and I will keep trying to make a difference in the hope of providing the students I work with with the greatest range of opportunities and experiences.