Families & the Community Opinion

Leadership Endings and Personal Lessons

By Jill Berkowicz & Ann Myers — May 15, 2018 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

For everything there is a season. A time for every purpose. From scripture to modern poetry and song, this sense of the rhythm of life is sustained and truthful. Spring is at the cusp of summer now and the natural world is greening up and bursting forth. Many see it as a new beginning. We think of ends. Educators have a sense of the follow of time different from those in other professions. For us, each year ends twice, once at the end of the calendar year and once at the end of the school year. Seniors graduate and other students, at least most of them, move upward through the system. Even though we have not been a part of the school year ending for years now, it still lives in us. And, therefore, we are choosing this month to end our blog, Leadership 360,

Books, blogs, and articles are published all the time. Consultants thrive on the desire of educators to grow and stay on the cutting edge. And we aspire every year to make a positive difference in how to be, how to lead, and how to serve. Servant leadership, transactional leadership, transitional leadership, and change leadership in a long enough career we have studied them all. Some have found icons to revere and follow and others have taken all that they have learned and made it their own. Regardless of how many are on the same journey, the steps are each our own.

For five and a half years, three times a week, we have published our leadership blog. Occasionally publishing a guest piece, we have written, and some of you have read, nearly 800 posts. We continue to learn and are honored to have a platform to share our thoughts with educators who are looking to hear from others. We hope we have provoked some new thinking, supported some of your work, and planted a few seeds. We are stepping away from blogging now. Looking back, we want to share a bit of the unexpected gift of co-authorship and the new understandings we gained from writing as one voice for these years. We learned that the process of writing each piece together:

  • Reinforced the shared belief that two leaders from widely different backgrounds could find strong agreement and disagree with respectful energy
  • Forced us to wrestle ideas to the point where words could express them jointly
  • Opened us to profound trust, offering our writing to another for their hand to rework and, yes, but only rarely, reject
  • Released us from the political constraints of our former leadership lives to exercise voice and speak freely, seeking , in fact, sometimes, to disturb as well as encourage
  • Taught us that Jill’s careful planning and Ann’s unfettered spontaneity created a blog which we hope was current and relevant, grounded and provocative

It has been an unexpected deeply personal process. And though there have been days when one or both of us were tired and uninspired, it has been a joy to be part of this Ed Week opportunity. We are grateful.

Technology allowed us, living hours apart and seldom in each other’s presence, to share the writing process. Sometimes, we emailed a word doc back and forth. Other times we shared a google doc. We were committed to our deadlines and made time in our lives for the work. Our partners would say it has been the most time consuming, unpaid work we have ever taken on as professionals.

Writing with someone else isn’t for everyone; but those who pursue this option will test and build their ability to trust and be trustworthy. Accepting feedback as a regular way of working is unfamiliar to many but we have found it strengthening. Writing forces one to struggle with the one word and then to open up to others. Were the words the right ones? Was the message we wanted to send the one that our readers received? Unlike the verbal world we often worked within, writing demands the personal time to think and reflect. Writing causes time to be still. What a gift that has been in this world of change and movement.

And, although each piece of writing has been between the two of us, it has contributed to the building of community. Leadership 360 has grown into a network of colleagues. We respect this community immensely and we hope to continue, actively, as members of the community for years to come. We have learned from you and have deeply appreciated your readership.

There is a blog in us which will not be written but we cannot end Leadership 360 without a nod to Senator John McCain. He is teaching us still about leadership and courage and vulnerability. Such strength and determination and clarity of purpose cannot be matched. But, the blog to write about the lessons he teaches us as leaders is someone else’s to write.

Themes of inclusiveness, of passion and purpose, of questioning and listening, and of integrity, respect and courage permeate our five years of writing. They are attributes of leadership that go beyond the knowledge and skill of the work itself. Without them, one cannot lead. We end here, for now, with the ending words of our very first blog. They are the words of John Seely Brown in The Power of Community.

It’s never enough just to tell people about some new insight,
Rather, you have to get them to experience it in a way
that evokes its power and possibility. Instead of pouring
knowledge into people’s heads, you need to help them grind
a new set of eyeglasses so they can see the world in a
new way.
--Jon Seely Brown

Brown, John Seely (1998). Seeing Differently: Insights on Innovation, Boston: Harvard Business Review

Ann Myers and Jill Berkowicz are the authors of The STEM Shift (2015, Corwin) a book about leading the shift into 21st century schools. Connect with Ann and Jill on Twitter or Email.

Related Tags:

The opinions expressed in Leadership 360 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Families & the Community Reported Essay Pandemic Parents Are More Engaged. How Can Schools Keep It Going?
Families have a better sense of what their child is learning, but schools will have to make some structural shifts to build on what they started.
6 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Families & the Community Opinion How to Preserve the Good Parts of Pandemic Schooling
Yes, there have been a few silver linings for student well-being in the pandemic. Let’s not lose them now, write two researchers.
Laura Clary & Tamar Mendelson
4 min read
A student and teacher communicate through a screen.
Families & the Community COVID Protocols Keep Changing. Here's How Schools Can Keep Parents in the Know
Parents and educators shared best practices for effective communication related to the pandemic. It all centers on transparency.
6 min read
communication information network 1264145800 b
Families & the Community Teachers' Union, Education Groups Unite to Resist Critical Race Theory Bans
Some of the country’s most prominent education groups are organizing against efforts to restrict teaching students about racism.
3 min read
Image of a "stop" hand overlaying a circle with a red diagonal line.
DigitalVision Vectors