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The third session was quite multi-faceted, so I’ll be concentrating my reflection on only two activities. Firstly, as a means of introduction to the SAT (Self-Assessment Tool for Aspiring Leaders), we were asked in our groups and/or individually to define some characteristics, competencies, and practices of effective leaders. Following that initial brainstorming, we were asked to walk around and share our thoughts with people in other groups, in hopes of starting conversations, and perhaps identifying some common threads. On the surface, this activity seemed simple enough (kind of like a think-pair-share), but it ended up being shockingly difficult.

The majority of the brainstorming time in my initial group centered around defining and differentiating between characteristics, competencies, and practices. However, once the walk-around began, I quickly discovered that different groups and individuals had defined each term in different ways. A large part of almost every conversation I had was focused on deciding how to recategorize their information into my framework rather than the free and open sharing of ideas.

Once we returned to our groups, we debriefed and shared the information we gathered from other people. During this time I will admit that I was not the most active participant in the conversation as I still needed to process and categorize everything from my conversations in a satisfactory way before I could move on. Using my own thoughts and those of my group, I see:

Characteristics as personality traits and the heart of a leader

(flexible, passionate, approachable, organized, resilient, honest, humble, optimistic, inspirational, reflective, empathetic, equitable, brave, adaptable)

Competencies as the skills, knowledge, and the head of a leader

(competent in the norms of collaboration, knowledge of high-yield instructional strategies, skills in active listening, emotional intelligence, mediation and facilitation skills)

Practices as the visible behaviours, habits, and actions of a leader

(building trust and relationships by talking, listening, and showing appreciation, modelling effective instructional strategies, setting high expectations, setting goals, reflecting, facilitating, communicating and collaborating positively and regularly)

Would you agree with the definitions for each category? Would you add any other traits, skills/competencies, or actions to any of the lists?

Secondly, the course facilitators introduced the SAT document and invited us to explore and discuss it within our groups, and to begin pondering our own personal leadership growth plan based on our strengths and weaknesses we identified in the document. Again, I admit that this was another discussion period where I was not very active. The first time I am introduced to something, my preference is to study it individually before talking it through with others, so I spent the majority of this time studying and absorbing the various sections of the document.

I still don’t have much more to say about the SAT or my own plan as I haven’t had many opportunities to continue my reflection since the third session, what with a four-day school excursion, midterm report cards, and life getting in the way. Unfortunately, session 4 begins in less than 48 hours and I am supposed to have a rough outline of my leadership growth plan to share with my group facilitator. Based on my (limited) thinking so far, I think I will need to bring a few ideas to be fleshed out and to receive feedback. I have yet to strike the plan that feels just right – not too small and narrow, but not too large and daunting. Hopefully I’ll find Goldilocks tomorrow.