Is it easier for you to work together with other people or to work alone?
My natural inclination is to work alone. For lesson planning and the grade team leader or IB coordinator work that requires concentrated effort, I crave solitude. Give me a clean desk, a Design Love Fest wall paper on my desktop, a jazz Spotify playlist in my ears, some Uni-Ball Signo gel pens, and my Bullet Journal, and I’m golden.
However, teaching and leadership experience have also improved my ability to delegate and to play well with others, particularly in the following areas.
1) Drawing Out Other People’s Strengths: As a kid, I could often be found saying “no! I want to do it!” out of a wish to prove my own competence. As an adult, I know now I can’t be SuperWoman and do it all, no matter how much I want to. At a trivial level, I definitely know I can’t change the water bubbler bottles at school. Though I’m strong, my short stature plus the weight of the bottle makes it near impossible for me to overturn the bottle into the spout without causing a repeat of the Teachers Lounge Flood of 2010. In addition to relying on others for small day-to-day tasks, I have started to try to adhere to the adage that a good leader doesn’t do the tasks that she can empower others to do. For example, the other grade team leaders and I could just emcee the school’s awards assemblies rather than investing in others to do so. Instead, we have moved to a student emcee model that uses our school president and vice president. There were some initial hiccups such as reading names too fast or not knowing how to introduce the headmasters, but those two have risen to the occasion and keep improving with every assembly they emcee.
2) Cooking: I would be happy to cook for hours every day with ingredients I found at the farmer’s markets. I would love to experiment with complicated recipes and painstakingly document it all with my DSLR. However, those hours are already taken up by leadership meetings, fitness classes, debate, and running club, so I have to figure out how to leverage my fiance for help in the kitchen. Bonus: more quality time with him as we construct meals. I used to feel nervous about asking him to help (curse of the “SuperWoman must do it all” mentality), but when I realized that he didn’t find my requests to be bossy or nagging, I stopped feeling that way.
4) Talking Through Lessons: I like getting feedback from friends or my fiance about my lesson or project ideas. The very act of talking through my plans can help me find inconsistencies or adjust timing of activities, and the diverse perspectives and experience of all those people can yield very fruitful ideas.