Exercising Teacher Power Responsibly (3260)

Chapter 18 of the Skillful Teacher was an interesting read for me as I considered my role as an educator as well as my supervisory role in the workplace, where a number of my students will end up.

This cross-connected role puts the authoritative relationship in the forefront for my students and is an area that I have a lot of awareness of.

When Brookfeild talks about the judgement and watchful eye of the students, looking for how we wield authority I relate this to how I respond to classroom management and my role as a leader. I am setting the tone not only as a reflection of our classroom culture, but also the culture of what it will look like within the organization reporting to me should they be successful in their studies within the workplace. As a result I have found that my teaching style and my leadership style have to share a number of qualities including my own vulnerability through sharing of experiences,  setting expectations and how I respond to issues that may arise in performance or quality of product produced by the student/employee. In both of these roles I can be friendly, respectful and collegial, however, the power will always exist within the room despite any attempts to diminish it.

Brookfield talks about the ubiquity of power and the panic of being met with silence, are they disinterested or are they intimidated… I have experienced both, identifying which has been a challenge… As a result I put a lot of effort into discussing “making mistakes” or chunking the content, so that they can eat the elephant of the material one bite at a time without feeling intimidated through things like standards-based grading to try and let them know they do not need to be intimidated by my role as the teacher and I carry this practice on within the workplace as well when providing feedback or coaching when the students are now in their role… I need them to use the time in the classroom to make mistakes and not be intimidated by potential observations of power or judgment that my role as a supervisor observing them in a moment of incompetence (conscience or sub-conscience incompetence) will not have a bearing outside of our classroom .

(Recently this graphic was shared in my 3250 class, and it something I plan on using in my classroom to help put students at ease when talking about their learning)

standards based grading

As I mentioned before I try to model similar styles in my leadership and my teaching, so when I do exercise what Brookfeild called “justifiable use of power and authority”, around attendance or disruptions, late assignments or quality of work I am providing a glimpse of what our organizations expectations will be as well… preparing them for the real world .

As Brookfeild moved to responsiveness and his thoughts teacher authenticity (which I wrote about here) , and looking at my own practice I feel that my current practice in these dual roles reflects these principals.

I found it interesting and bold that Brookfeild acknowledged Baptiste’s analysis being troubling in terms of coercion and transparency… I very much keep the employer away as much as possible from the classroom, while I provide feedback to the stakeholders about the progress of the class, I keep the classroom as separate as possible to maintain the environment free from disruption and as safe a learning environment as possible.  This is especially important when there is a group discussion on things like policy, discussing a change in the organization etc… I have been a participant in courses where the discussion was present, but it was no a safe place to discuss, explore and analyze thoughts that were not in line with the people offering the training or education, and I have experienced the opposite… I have to say that my learning and the value of the discussion was much greater when the opportunity for transparent safe classroom was presented.


The second part of my week 4 Post/Assignment  is around where I am professionally and where I would like to be in 5 years

I have almost completed my time within the PIDP program, as a result to date, my teaching style and approach to my classroom has changed immensely in some areas…

What I have learned most is that being a leader and being a teacher goes hand in hand more than I thought it would. Some advised me against pursuing my academic adventure in education and advised that I invest in more management and leadership based courses… well it turns out they perhaps gave some poor advise…I am sure they have my best interest at heart for the paths for professional advancement, but what they may not have realized, is that I have been able to modify and advance my leadership style with each new learning from within the PIDP course, the personal and professional growth has been both personally rewarding and academically fulfilling… with those things the right professional advancement will come along.

In terms of next steps and the next 5 years… I see it looking something like this:

3-6 Months: Courage Works Course (Brene Brown) this is a course that looks at evidence-based leadership changing how we show up as leaders in education.

  • Deepening the capacity of education leaders to show up authentically, take risks, problem solve, faster learning and connect more fully;
  • Equipping participants with communication and relationship skills that prepare them to engage in tough conversations and work through difficult conversations;
  • Building resilience that allows participants to overcome and reset after disappointment, failure, and setbacks;
  • Bridging the critical connection between personal and professional development by teaching participants to recognize why they must take responsibility for both, and how to integrate program leanings into their work and lives; and
  • cultivating feedback cultures that promote accountability, trust and innovation.


(If I have not mentioned it in this course yet, I will… I have a huge education/leadership crush on Brene Brown) 

2-5 Years: Degree Completion for BA. with a Major in Leadership.

3-5 Years: Enrollment in the SFU Masters of Education/ Curriculum Development Cohort

That’s the plan anyway!

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