The Chalk Blog

Teaching Tips - Toeing the Line as a Teacher Leader

This Teaching Tip comes from one of Learners Edge very own - Dr. Nancy Lindfors, Director of Curriculum and Instruction. We hope her insight will help as you consider ways to advance your teaching career:

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Teachers have the corner on the market when it comes to “creative” excuses. Sometimes, it’s not just our students or peers who might not take ownership, but let’s be honest, ourselves. It’s human nature to avoid accountability and to become the victim, and we can quickly become caught up in a sense of helplessness. Everyone can picture a colleague or student who plays the broken records: “Why does this always happen to me?” or “I can’t trust anyone to do this right.” or, “They will never listen to my ideas.”

We can, however, learn to recognize what learned helplessness looks like, and can practice strategies to turn victim into victor.

One simple model from Roger Connors, CEO and New York Times Bestselling Author of The Oz Principle can help you better identify, discuss and redirect victim mentality toward accountability.  The model, called Steps to Accountability describes behaviors that reflect accountability as "above the line":

  •        See it
  •        Own it
  •        Solve it
  •        Do it

...and behaviors that reflect "below the line" tendencies, or the victim mentality:

  •        Wait and See
  •        Ignore/Deny
  •        Finger Point
  •        Confusion/Tell Me What to Do
  •        Cover Your Tail
  •        It’s Not My job

How do you begin to transform victim (below the line) behaviors into victor (above the line) behaviors?  Try these five steps to get started:

  • Address the elephant in the room.  Use the tools on the Steps to Accountability website to find a common language to discuss victim mentality 
  • Accept and acknowledge that it is human to “go victim”
  • Set groundrules with students and colleagues regarding how to hold one another accountable when victim mentality is observed. Remember to focus on behaviors, not people.
  • Recognize little victories and celebrate when students and peers (and you!) exhibit above the line behaviors. 
  • In the words of the late Michael Jackson – start with the “man” in the mirror.  Model good above the line behaviors for students and peers.
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For more information about being a teacher leader, check out Learner’s Edge Course
Follow the Leader: What Great Teacher-Leaders Do. Or browse for another course to meet your continuing education needs.

Topics: Teaching Advice, Teaching Wellness & Inspiration

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