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Authentic Leadership Matters

Over our two days together at Summer Institute 2023, the theme of voice and empowerment for students, teachers, and leaders developed – not that they don’t already have voice and empowerment, but that we can create the environment in which they feel safe to engage their voice and power. Our keynote speakers really drove home what is required of authentic leaders to create such conditions!

russ quaglia working with teachers

Dr. Russell Qualia, Qualia Institute, provided the guiding principles for listening, learning, and leading with voice:

  1. Share thoughts and ideas in an environment underpinned by trust and respect;

  2. Offer realistic suggestions for the good of the whole; and

  3. Accept responsibility for what you say and what now needs to be done. “Voice is not an add-on, it is a way of being.”

Michelle Pledger keynote speaker

  1. Accept the students we have, not the ones we wish we had;

  2. Truly recognize who our students are and who they can become; and

  3. Remember our own passion and purpose for this work.

buddy berry working with teachers

Dr. Buddy Berry, Eminence Schools, showed up with Surprise and Delight–the message that we should be intentional about bringing joy into our work and learning experiences. He challenged us to commit to “think differently” and move consistently into “Yes, and” thinking and away from “No, but” thinking.

Annalies Corbin keynote speaker

Dr. Annalies Corbin, PAST Foundation, asked our panel, “How do you as an educator make the shift from traditional instruction to authentic learning?”

Teachers shared:

  • The person doing the work is the person doing the learning, so classroom practices must shift, so we engage students in more of the work–hopefully, meaningful and impactful work.

  • It helps to utilize a teaching partner, so you are not alone as you try new strategies.

  • We must create authentic learning experiences and then plug as many standards in as possible, not the other way around.

  • It’s worth taking the risk to teach differently. Authentic learning gives students a purpose to persist through challenges.

Steve Shapiro panel speaker

Steve Shapiro, Experience Matters, encouraged us to consider “evidence” versus “data”-- and use “evidence of learning” as a broader, more robust way for authentic leaders to evaluate their systems, practices and policies.

Authentic leadership matters.


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