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“Know Thyself”: The Importance of Self-Analysis for the School/Community Leader

Module by: Dianne Pollard. E-mail the author

Summary: In Summer 2007, a Virginia Tech Doctoral cohort completed EDAE 6924, School Community Partnerships. Here is a personal reflection authored by Dianne Pollard.

Summary of Module

The diversity of the student population and the challenges that are present in today’s educators are creating an environment that is reliant upon parent and community involvement (Coleman, 2007). In today’s climate of heightened expectations and accountability, the role of school and central office leaders has expanded to include an incredible array of professional tasks and competencies, including parent and community involvement. Coleman’s assertions, through support of his research by Marzano (2003) lists three features of parent and community involvement: 1) communication; 2) participation; and 3) governance.

Coleman maintains that successful school leaders must be able to articulate their philosophy of leadership, in order to meet the goals for the school, and believes that this is true of their thoughts about parent and community involvement. Coleman poses one important question that stimulates self reflection: 1) What is your readership style, and how do you communicate? Two surveys are recommended as tools to help leaders reflect on their philosophies and beliefs concerning parent and community involvement.

Self Analyses

  1. Communication Style Survey

Based on the scoring of the survey, my preferred style of communication tends to be that of Helper. The actual scores indicate a very slight difference between Helper and Thinker with scores of 13 and 12 respectively. The results of the survey are indicative of my style of communication.

As I reflect back to my years as a teacher and guidance counselor, I was probably more of a Helper. Since entering the area of administration, however, I have had the need to become more of Thinker than in my earlier career. As a central office administrator this year, an enormous amount of my time has been working with parents, either through telephone calls of concern or supporting principals in their efforts to work with parents and community. I have demonstrated more characteristics of the Battler and Thinker styles of communication, depending on the situation.

While my score as Battler is three points lower than Helper, I believe that there are situations where some of the characteristics of a Battler style of communication is appropriate. The most important outcome of taking the survey is the realization that a successful leader not only needs to understand their preferred or dominant communication style, but also to acknowledge that there are situations in leadership that require a combination of all three categories.

  1. Listener Survey

As predicted, I scored above the good listener benchmark (94) on the Karen Zupko & Associates Listener Survey. Listening is a skill that must be acquired through frequent practice. My background and training as a high school counselor have provided numerous opportunities for developing good listening skills.

Building strong relationships with parents and the community demand this skill from all educational leaders. In some instances, dissatisfied parents are more interested in someone listening and valuing their concerns than they are in filing a formal complaint.

  1. My philosophy of leadership in parent and community involvement relationships

Is that the leader must be keen enough to demonstrate elements of the Helper and

Thinker, and be willing to “do battle” when the occasions demands this type of style.

The list of risks for the Battler are worth taking when the leader is confident that this type

of style is the best way to achieve a particular goal.

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