Leadership – Assert Yourself!

By Susan D. Ballard and Blanche Woolls

An area of responsibility that school librarians often struggle with is in seeing themselves as leaders and then in carving out that that role within their sphere of practice. During School Library Month we’ve got a suggestion that may unnerve some of you or make you feel uncomfortable–but isn’t that what learning is all about? So we hope you’ll take some time to understand why you must lead others, advance along the leadership continuum, and move into the realm of “assertive leadership.”

Joe Folkman, a Forbes Blog contributor, expressed the concept of assertive leadership quite succinctly in a piece titled “The 6 Secrets of Successfully Assertive Leaders.” He stated “From the time my children were small I encouraged them to be ‘go getters.’ I told them not to wait for things to happen, but to make them happen, and that one of the keys to success in life was to be assertive.” We bolded the text that we want you to really consider — don’t wait for things to happen; make them happen!

Admittedly, this is not for the shrinking violet, but it is oh so necessary in today’s learning landscape. It’s time to face the facts that if you are going to be viewed as relevant and essential, you cannot allow yourself or your program to be marginalized or seen as existing on the outer parameters of school dynamics. If you find yourself in that sort of position the time to take action is now.

Start this exercise by thinking about the basic premise that we lead our students to be better readers, better learners, better critical thinkers, better citizens, better lifelong learners.

Why shouldn’t we lead our teachers to create more interesting lesson plans, more creative assignments to interest students so they become better readers, learners, etc.?

Why shouldn’t we lead our principals to understand that we provide access to information that allows our students to become better readers, etc.?

Why shouldn’t we lead our community to recognize the importance of school librarians as they provide access to information in the lives of our students so they become better able to succeed in college, their careers, and as involved and engaged members of their communities?

Well, the answer it really simple – we should!  Read the entirety of Folkman’s blog post and see if you can incorporate one of his suggestions into your personal playbook. We especially like #6 –  Look for opportunities to collaborate as that is yet another area in which all school librarians need to step up their game in order to extend their participation in and influence on teaching and learning.

Finally, you’ll have to indulge our continuing call for contributions to AASL’s 65th Anniversary campaign – It’s in Our Hands: Celebrate the Past, Transform the Future  – which is all about making sure that we cultivate and grow leaders for the future.  f you have not already done so, there’s no better time than now to click the link and make a difference.



Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics

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