I Am A Leader?!? Really???

I am an introvert. I have issues with anxiety. I can put on my actor face and speak in front of audiences, but it is not something I enjoy. I am really a very private person. I don’t like huge social gatherings, rather small, intimate evenings with my really good friends. Some friends ask how I can be comfortable in front of a class every day, direct a musical with 250 kids or lead a Ready Set Learn session…the short answer is that I call on every ounce of bravery and energy I have and just do it. I don’t like being the center of attention. I feel vulnerable. I feel exposed. It physically drains me.

I love teaching. I feel I was born to be a teacher, but that doesn’t mean that being a teacher is easy for me. I find teaching to be a very physical, emotional task. By the end of my teaching day, I am spent. I give my all to my students and hopefully they know that I provide them the best education I possibly can.

Over the past year I have stretched myself beyond my comfort zone to do things I never thought possible. I am a co-moderator for #kinderchat, I went to Las Vegas to #edcampkinder to spend four days with people I had never met (MY PEOPLE), and I will be hosting #edcampkinder at my school on Feb. 15.

I have also hosted many visitors to my classroom…teachers and administrators alike have asked to come and see what the KinderPals are doing. I am honestly happy to have them visit, but I would be lying if I said that it was easy to have them in. It terrifies me! I know my students will show them how wonderful they are, but I can’t help feeling vulnerable…exposed…on display.

For some, leading may be easy….natural, or comfortable, even. But not me. I wish it were more natural! I wish that I had enough confidence to overcome my fears and not be so anxious. Really. What am I afraid of? That people won’t like me or what I am doing in my class? It’s so silly…but so real.

Even more so, I find it unnerving to see myself on video. I blogged about a video I made for Jason Graham’s social media presentation at Learning2 conference in Beijing. It was easy to write the presentation, but knowing that others would be WATCHING me…I still feel uneasy about that. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy with what I presented, it’s just the feeling of permanence and transparency that video brings that makes me feel exposed. No longer am I working quietly away with my students in my classroom…the world has a window into who I am, what I am doing professionally, and that’s unnerving.

Most recently I agreed to be interviewed by Vijay Manuel, Vice Principal of W. J. Mouat Secondary School for a district meeting series called “Building Leaders”. BUILDING LEADERS?!? ME??? I don’t consider myself a leader…I am a TEACHER. I suppose that the title of teacher inherently includes the definition of being a leader (I hope so), but I teach children, not colleagues. Give me 20
Kindergarten students and I can work all day. 50 adults watching a 3 minute video of me? That’s not so comfortable. Once again, my anxiety level increased, I worried, I forgot EVERYTHING I said during the interview…but I had to trust that Vijay wouldn’t present me in a way I wouldn’t present myself.

So, here I am, thankful that Vijay edited the video in such a professional manner, thankful that I didn’t give in to my anxiety and say “No” when he asked me to participate, and thankful that I could be brave, step forward and be a leader.

KinderPals 2013 from Abbotsford Central on Vimeo.

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11 thoughts on “I Am A Leader?!? Really???

  1. What a beautiful post. As an introvert, I “get” how being out there takes every bit of energy there is. And how you can turn on that energy when you need to. And how hard is is to go more public with that energy. I guess even if you don’t see yourself as a leader, others do. And the video of you is fabulous.

    • Thank you, Sandi. You know, I don’t think I could be so brave without the support of my #kinderchat gang. It is empowering to know that I have a cheering section who believe in me and support me.

  2. That is great Michelle! I also feel uncomfortable in front of an audience. It is difficult to share myself with others (though I LOVE teaching). I’m glad you do what you do. It has inspired me and so many others. Thanks for putting yourself out there!

    • Thanks Lora! I often wonder how many of us introverts are in the classroom. I think it takes great courage to teach when we know that our jobs are so taxing on us psychologically. My mom is an extrovert, so she can’t relate to how exhausting teaching is for me. I envy the energy she draws from being in public.

  3. I enjoyed your post and the video, Michelle! I have enjoyed catching both your personal and professional Twitter sharing and I like how your post has complimented who you are! I have never let anyone convince me that introverts can’t be good teachers or leaders. Thanks for sharing your journey! Rock on 🙂

    • Thanks Sheila! You know, I think twitter has allowed me to show who I really am as a leader. It’s not taxing for me to tweet because I don’t have to be in front of a crowd in real life. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have a PLN on twitter (that includes you!) to share ideas with and learn from every day. So glad to have you a part of my learning circle!

  4. I also despise large gatherings and have been known to turn down opportunities because of anxiety. As a fellow introverted teacher, I absolutely understand where you’re coming from! I’m only in the very beginning stages of leading in any way and I do love it… But I am also extremely overwhelmed and exhausted. It really does eat up all of my energy! It’s not often that a naturally introverted teacher stands up and admits that they love being a leader but also that it scares them…. Thank you for inspiring!

    • Thank you for reading my blog and good for you for stepping out to lead even when it is exhausting. A “class rule” we have in #kinderchat is “Be Brave” and I try to remind myself of that every day. Maybe it will help you, too.

  5. What a LOVELY post MIchelle! And what a fabulous video showcasing your innovation with your kindies. Look at you forging the way, you should be proud of yourself.
    I feel so lucky to have you in my PLN and am inspired by your willingness to take risks around sharing what you are doing in your classroom.

    Best,
    c

  6. Pingback: Be the Bulb | Searching for Sunshine

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