Learners = Leaders & Leaders= Learners​

Is compliance the death of autonomy? Is autonomy the key to building our leaders through a sense of constant and meaningful leadership?

I recently sat down with my mom who happens to be a career and management coach. People employ her to gain and share perspective on how they can grow as professionals within numerous fields; I am blessed to have her expertise at every Sunday night dinner and Friday night walk. Recently she called me on the carpet…”It is okay to be in a space of discovery” she said. What I realized she was saying is that if I sell myself out of the opportunity to learn I was never going to be a good leader.

My leadership cannot be supported by compliance but rather the risk to ask for and build on the autonomy I am privileged to work within. I connected her feedback and suggestions to my current growth as an opportunity to focus more on being a learner in order to grow as a leader. I have always gravitated toward leadership roles. On the playground, I was ‘managing’ the other students during role play antics. During the group project, I would make suggestions about who should take on what task before others had a chance to finish reading and connecting to the objectives. I am a ‘get it done’ kind of gal who isn’t afraid to pull her own weight towards a collective product. I realize that in all my focus towards ‘getting the job done’ I am selling myself and others short on the opportunity to learn and grow from the experience instead of a presented product.

Ruben Puentadura elaborates on how learning can impact leaders in his SMAR approach to supporting the learners with his supportive structure that supports from the lens of Substitution, Argumentation, Modification, and Redefinition. If leaders are built by learning than embracing the SAMR will support our growth while we nurture the minds of others.
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ISTE Educator Standard 2c states that guides need to “Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation, and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning”, how can we do this if we are not open to discovery within the unknown?

Instructional leads can create and advocate for classroom environments that support the learning that is happening today; to grow the learners and leaders of tomorrow. In conjunction , the ISTE Educator standard 1c implies that educators who “Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences” will poise our learners to be the leaders of tomorrow. The idea that ‘Active Learning’ can support the learning and leadership we want to nurture stems directly from how we change our pedagogical approach to the actual environment that fosters intellectual growth.

Chris Hayhurst elaborates on how  active learning is at the heart of the expertise we want to develop in our future leaders. Hayhurst elaborates on how educational institutions like the one found at the University of California Irvine builds the learner into a leader and the leader into a learner. “We’re a university that prides itself on the fact that half of our students are the first in their families to go to college,” says Michael Dennin, UCI’s vice provost of teaching and learning. “If you look at the evidence, you see that learning improves for anyone participating in an active-learning environment, but it especially improves for those first-generation students”. The actual space is fluid and allows for instant application and connection. This level of trained innovation supports students as they make meaning of the course work they are experiencing versus the complicity of a lecture-based classroom environment that often does not work for our first-generation college students.

This leaves me to my own self realization. Leaders are always learners, and learners do not always have an answer ready before the objective has been read and interpreted. In today’s world, the collaboration we experience in our learning environments will directly impact the ‘Modification’ and ‘Redefinition’ is more powerful when we allow for a space of learning together within environments that promote the active learning we will experience in the workplace.

I appreciate my mom for taking time to coach others, I appreciate how she gives so freely of her expertise to her community and loved ones. I am glad I stopped myself from defending my rapid progression to an end I had not completely defined or discovered and listened to her remind me that it is important to discover myself and nuture my foundation as a learner.



ISTE. (n.d.). ISTE Standards for Educators | ISTE. Retrieved April 22, 2019, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators

Hayhurst, C. (2019, February 18). Active-Learning Buildings Showcase New Teaching Philosophies. Retrieved April 14, 2019, from https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2019/02/active-learning-buildings-showcase-new-teaching-philosophies

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