I heard something on Monday evening that I thought was so brilliant it compelled me to write this post.
While listening to #IMMOOC Season 4, Episode 4 with Katie Martin, John Spencer, Kaleb Rashad, and Eric Chagala, John brought forth the notion that to be a teacher leader, you need to be part sage and part lunatic. After my initial giggle, I started to reflect on John’s statement. I’m a teacher leader, at least I hope I am in the eyes of others, so how does this statement connect with my work, and my relationships with others? When would I identify as a sage, and when would I demonstrate the traits of a lunatic?
Paraphrasing John, here is the difference between and sage and a lunatic:
The sage is the one who quietly knows how to get things done, how to work within the system, and how to be quietly subversive to change things.
The lunatic knows how to jump in there and just be disruptive, sometimes vocal. Like no, this is what is best for kids. We are going to do it, and I am willing to risk it.
John Spencer, Co-Author of Launch and Empower
I work with a variety of stakeholders, but most of my time is spent working with teachers. When I reflect on the work I do, and the relationships I cultivate with teachers within the context of the sage and the lunatic, I’m immediately aware of the push and pull of both of these notions. Sometimes I need to be a lunatic to push boundaries. If boundaries are not pushed, there is no forward momentum; without momentum, we reach a point of stagnation. After that initial push though, I recognize the necessity of pulling in the reigns in order to deploy the quietly subversive tactics of the sage. The lunatic moves ideas forward, they innovate, the sage moves the people.
This is a cyclical process. Innovation doesn’t lead to a destination; it leads to more innovation. Therefore, the push and pull of the sage and lunatic is always present. Teacher leaders, or any leaders for that matter, need to know when to lead like a sage, and when it’s best to embrace the lunatic. It’s a constant back and forth.
I will end this short post with two questions. When have you employed the quietly subversive tactics of the sage to move others forward with a subtle nudge, comment, or an offer of support? Conversely, when has your commitment to kids driven you to dive in and pull out your inner lunatic, knowing full well that your actions may be disruptive? Knowing the difference, and whether to unleash the sage or the lunatic is the art.