Which will be most natural for you and why?
I believe the core discipline that will be most challenging for me as a leader is Mental Models. I personally recognize that I like to try new things in school. For me, it’s ok to readjust and fail and keep trying until something works. However, I know that there are many teachers with an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. I have seen first hand some of the passive aggressive attitudes that come my way if I try to suggest a new or different way of approaching a project or style of teaching. I am excited about what we can do to change and improve education but often my ideas or suggestions “conflict with deeply held internal images of how the world (in education) works” (Senge, 1990, p. 163).
In my current position, I am able to suggest new and innovative ideas to teachers. We can collaborate and build off of each other’s ideas until we’re both happy with our experiment. Our conversations are natural debriefing and planning sessions. However, I know which teachers I can plan and create with, and I know which teachers I should avoid discussing any kind of educational technology or current trends in education. The role I have now allows me to pick and choose who I plan with and push toward new ideas. As a leader in school, I will not always have that choice.
More importantly, it will be difficult to recognize the mental model(s) at a school. When “we remain unaware of our mental models, the models remain unchanged. As the world changes, the gap widens between our mental models and reality, leading to increasingly counterproductive actions” (Senge, 1990, p. 166). In fact, before reading the Mental Models chapter, I wouldn’t have been able to come up with what I believe to be what a schools mental model should be; what’s best for kids. I do believe that most educators would agree with the idea that whatever we do, it should be what’s best for kids. However, it will continue to be the HOW that is a challenge.
I believe that the most natural core discipline for me would be Shared Vision. I recognize that I have a personal vision. However, I also recognize that my personal vision is still very unclear, in fact I would call it more of a personal directional vision. I know some things that I think are important when it comes to changing education today. However, I am not crystal clear on how to achieve the change I would like to someday see. For this, I rely on others. I ask for opinions, ideas, and feedback. I understand that I do not have all the answers, but if we can work collaboratively, we have better chances of making some really impactful changes. I feel like because I want to rely more on the collaborative creation of a vision, I can avoid what Senge (1990) said happens to many leaders; “many leaders have personal visions that never get translated into shared visions that galvanize an organization” (p. 9). Senge (1990) went on to explain that “what has been lacking is a discipline for translating individual vision into shared vision - not a “cookbook” but a set of principles and guiding practices” (p. 9).
Again, Senge (1990) explained that “when you look carefully you find that most “visions” are on person’s (or one group’s) vision imposed on an organization” (p. 192). My hope is that by working together with others at school we can build a shared vision in which everyone feels like they had input. There will be compromise and not everyone will be in the same place when it comes to vision achievement. However, I believe that if everyone believes we are working together to achieve our goal and that they are supported no matter where they are in the process, that shared vision will be successful.