The Power of Learning By Modeling


So much of the learning that has accompanied my education has had nothing to do with a classroom. I have personally benefited by being surrounded by people who have modeled intelligence and character. These people became my models, my heroes. Why do we love heroes so much? They give us something to aspire to, a hope of what we can become ourselves. Today, for example we stop to recognize the leadership and sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Our country is still feeling the effect of his efforts to educate and promote peace through reconciliation between people. I am profoundly reminded in a world filled with much social conflict, that we have come far in many areas, but yet have so far to go. The future will require leaders who can handle some huge questions. We consistently need to raise up in our community and schools, leaders who aren’t afraid to question, think, and demonstrate deep character. 

We talk a lot about the need for societal change,  but truthfully that is a macro level issue that will only be solved with a micro level solution – me. For real change to occur I need to exhibit it, by bringing real ideas and exemplary character to the table. In my life I have had some fantastic examples of leadership through my grandmother, parents, and other men who invested in me. All of these people have taught me through their example the power of relationship and how it impacts change.

My grandmother was in the banking industry for over 30 years and would tell me story after story about how she dealt with difficult people and different types of people of all colors and classes.  I learned more often by sitting at her feet than in a classroom. Those skills she imparted I carry with me today as I see the world as my classroom. However, at a much more concrete level I understand that my greatest influence currently is the school building where I serve as an administrator.

When I walk through those school doors each day I’m reminded that my most powerful teaching happens through my example. 

Some Helpful questions as I Model Learning

  1. How can I affect the culture of my school today through relationship building, trust giving, and empowering personal ownership of learning whether social or intellectual?
  2. What do I want students and staff to understand about their value as learners? What does that look like?
  3. Is there one person in particular I could be mentoring and building capacity, whether a student or staff team member? This extends beyond your core leadership team.
  4. Am I leading the way by modeling being an active, engaged, & life long learner? Am I challenging myself to grow as much as I am my team?
  5. Are all decisions being made with the highest ethics and integrity possible?

There is a laundry list of areas in life I have not figured out but this is one I am working on daily. Let us not be so short sighted to believe that the best learning is from a book or a standardized skill, but instead through the power of a person’s model.

Grow. Lead. Serve. -Jeff


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