Sep 10

Stepping out of My Comfort Zone

September 10, 2015
LaToya Major, Teacher Leader,
Yorkship Family School

My years as a teacher and a consultant offered ample opportunities to collaborate with educators and leaders who shared a common goal of driving student outcomes.  Spotlighting strategies to ensure students met or exceeded their learning goals was a top priority and building strong relationships with teachers, staff, students, and parents came easy to me.  However, despite my years of experience in and out of the classroom, my impact was limited because my voice was unheard.

Speaking through the voice of a leader takes courage and I learned this best when I began my residency with the 2015-2016 PLUS cohort.  I began the program with some level of uncertainty about my leadership or the type of impact I could make in the field.  Being a sponge and ready to absorb a wealth of knowledge, I had to gradually get to a place where I was able to share the information that had been deposited in me over the years.  To accomplish this, I needed to find my leadership voice.

Through the five-week summer institute, PLUS gave me the opportunity to establish more clarity around my beliefs and my vision as a leader. An environment was created that encouraged me to take chances.   I was able to make decisions about effective leadership practices and ways to establish a strong community and culture across my school building.  This gave me more courage to leave my comfort zone of silence and test the new skills that I was acquiring.  When I did use my leadership voice, I was better able to assess my strength and growth areas through the constructive feedback that was given from my peers and coaches.

Over the course of the summer, I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  This meant discovering how to take risks, such as standing in front of a group and modeling an action step or role playing a challenging situation I could face in a school.  Taking such risks introduced the opportunity for me to grow and learn as a new leader.

Particularly, I began to experience feelings of success with the work I was able to produce.  This success increased my level of anxiety due to the raised expectations; however, this led to my continued personal growth.  When I completed the summer institute, I felt a sense of accomplishment.  Yet, I know that there is much more to accomplish.

Because of my experiences with PLUS, my comfort zone has grown.  I am willing to take more risks and stretch myself past the boundaries that confined me at the beginning of institute.  I realize more and more that the demands of the work are great and leaders must persevere in the face of challenges.

All and all, I have truly been motivated to give my best and let my voice be heard in the midst of a crowd.  Besides, there is a tangible reward when I see the impact that I can have on students and those under my leadership.  Staying in my comfort zone will decrease my productivity, which can limit my impact. Therefore, it is imperative that I continue push beyond my level of comfort. Even with the growth I have made, I must constantly remind myself to take risks and welcome challenges. There is always more to learn and I am looking forward to using my leadership voice to influence others to achieve their greatest potential.  My leadership journey has just begun and I am ready to expand my comfort zone even more.