As I stared at the internship essay topics early this morning, still hoping to knock at least one out before officially going back to school, I realized what the problem is. Every one of them asks for an essay describe your leadership or management experience within your school. That sounds totally reasonable at first glance, people want hard worker, candidates with vision, intelligence, the ability to make things happen and inspire others. In most professions those qualities would lead to leadership roles.
Yet at the think-tank I think we work hard to not have specific leaders and followers. We work together as a team, even with our instructional coaches. We are all pretty much officially on the same place in the hierarchy of the school, but not in the 'we all feel powerless together' type of way. Instead we all feel we have a voice, a place in the collaborative conversation. There are few top down initiatives. No one can say they developed this one activity, lesson, unit or theory in isolationand I don't think anyone wants to. The people I know who maybe could say that never would- they bring their ideas to teams in order to develop a better collaborative product. They know that without real teacher buy-in nothing will ever truly be accomplished. Real changes will never make it into the hands of the children.
All of this makes for an excellent school, but not a place to necessarily rise up with personal leadership opportunities. Because it's not about the adults inside the building, it's about the kids and their success. I have a hard time even wanting to sell myself to orgnizations wanting to know one way I single handledly changed an initiative at my school. Because if they think single-handed initiatives are the way to solve education then I'm sure I'll enjoy working there anyway.
Well, I think what you describe in this post as a shared leadership experience might still be recognized as valuable. The characteristics of showing initiative and inspiring others are still there, and collaboration and teamwork skills are always important. Maybe this will even set you above the rest of the applicants, even if the model isn't the one used where you want to intern. Good luck!
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