Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Leader's Identity

A Leader’s Identity
Sandy Cameli, EdD • Educational Specialist • Hawaii Dept. of Education

At a recent professional development inservice for teacher leaders, a highly respected and exemplar educator quipped, “Everyone keeps telling me I’m a leader, but I just don’t get it - what exactly do they see, and why don’t I?”  This comment was less about humility and more about understanding one’s own perception of identity. What we exude may be a behavior - even a facade depending upon circumstances - but do these actions truly represent who I am, or who I believe I am as a leader?

Robert Dilts’ research, on “The New Leadership Paradigm (1996)”, provides an overview of how an individual’s beliefs and values are developed or influenced by environmental and experiential factors. Dilts’ model can be compared to nested bowls which illustrate various levels of learning. The smallest bowl represents behaviors or the “what” that is observable. These behaviors can be actions or reactions associated with a certain time, space or incident. The next bowl is considered capabilities or the “how” level. This second container aligns to skills or strategies used to accomplish a goal or task. The third bowl is where our values/beliefs are housed. Here a leader examines the “why” behind decision making, or consults his or her own moral compass for guidance on actionable items. The last bowl holds all the other levels intact and is considered an individual’s identity. This analogy asks the “who” question and focuses on the mission of a person’s purpose for family, career and life goals. Finally, environment asks the “where” and “when” questions and influences the opportunities or obstacles a leader encounters.

So how can educators apply this model to their own professional growth in order to identify as a teacher leader? Ongoing reflection and self-assessment practices help to hone these skills, which in turn help to mold an identity. For example, a professional growth plan developed around Dilts’ framework may look something like the sample below:

Teacher Leader Professional Growth Plan - SAMPLE
Goal: Use facilitation strategies that engage participants during team meetings
Behavior(s): What will I commit to doing differently?
  • use facilitation strategies (7 norms of collaboration) in my articulation meetings
  • follow the PDCA/ SMART model for problem solving when monitoring progress of RTI
Capabilities: What will I need to learn or skills to develop?
  • practice the 7 norms of collaboration - especially pausing and paraphrasing
  • practice using SMART goals & PDCA cycle outside of grade level Data Teams.
Beliefs & Values: What are my beliefs about this area of improvement?
  • Using these new skills will help validate perspectives & create a positive atmosphere to keep everyone focused on goals/outcomes.
Identity: How will this make me an effective Teacher Leader?
  • I will be a better facilitator by ensuring all participants have equal opportunity to contribute and feel ownership in the outcomes/decisions made collectively.
Reflection/Continuous Improvement: How will I monitor my progress? How will I know I am successful?
  • I plan to be more reflective. I like the idea of writing down reflections at least 3 times a week. Based on these insights, I can see if I’m being successful at what I am trying to improve upon.
Environment: What external factors do I need to be aware of in order to achieve my goal(s)?
  • It’s important to review the mission & vision of our school, as well as observe the norms of behavior currently in place before proceeding w/my goals.

The teacher leader’s growth plan (above) focuses on the skill of facilitation. Currently this educator does not believe facilitation is translating into an effective behavior, which may be construed as weak leadership. However, the educator values multiple perspectives by validating participants, which is tied to a strong belief system. The goal then becomes honing the skill of facilitation by practicing paraphrasing and pausing to elicit multiple viewpoints.

An individual’s identity cannot be solely based on observable behaviors, but instead by one’s beliefs and values and how they are intertwined with capabilities and influences. The teacher at the start of this post could not “see” what others saw, and likely had not stopped to analyze various components - or “Levels of learning” - before jumping to the conclusion of not being a leader.

For aspiring and veteran teacher leaders, it’s never too late to assess our identities via professional growth goals. Take a moment to analyze your own “bowls” by asking, “Are they all accounted for and do they fit together appropriately?”  If the answer is “no”, then it’s probably time to find some new bowls, or at the very least - reconfigure existing containers so they align with your belief system!

Dilts, R. (1996) The New Leadership Paradigm, NLP University, retrieved from

Friday, June 2, 2017

Mahalo Superintendent Matayoshi!

On behalf of Na Kumu Alaka'i teacher leaders, we send a heartfelt Mahalo to our departing Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi! 

Monday, April 24, 2017

2016-2017 TLA Cohort Celebration 2017

Na Kumu Alaka’i Celebrates
the 2016-2017 Cohort of Teacher Leaders
April 20, 2017 • Oahu Veterans Center

On April 20, 2017, forty-four exceptional teacher leaders from across the State of Hawaii showcased their action research projects and professional learning goals through a culminating event ~ Na Kumu Alaka’i Learning Fair - 2017. Over 100 guests representing schools, complex areas, state level offices, universities and non-profit organizations celebrated the outstanding work accomplished by these master educators.

It is with bittersweet emotion I bid farewell to the 2016-2017 Cohort, and wish them well on their journeys as assets to the field of education in Hawaii’s public schools!

Sandy Cameli, EdD
Educational Specialist/Program Coordinator

Na Kumu Alaka'i Cohort 2016-2017

Kevin Argueta, Kahakai Elementary
Collaborative Environment for Literacy Success

Hidi Boteilho, Keonepoko Elementary
Enhancing Professional Practice by being a Reflective Practitioner

Shannon Burkman, Waimea Canyon Middle
Data Team Storming to Norming (and hopefully Performing!)

Noelani Castro, Wailuku Elementary
Getting to the Core: Comprehensive Core Meeting Process

Julia Chen, Kailua Elementary
Small Group Differentiated Instruction

Samantha Cook, Holualoa Elementary
Data Mining for Math Mastery

Yolanda Dana, Keonepoko Elementary
Building Effective Learning Communities in Grades 1, 4 & 6

Becky Diego, Kalihi Waena Elementary
Improving Parental Communication through REMIND

Jill Fletcher, Kapolei Middle
A Sense of Place

Marites Galamgam, Campbell High
Making Sense of Schoolwide Initiatives:
Differentiating Continuous Professional Development

Randall Galeon, Pearl Harbor Elementary
A’o Honua - Learning Walks

Dana Goya, Waikoloa Elementary & Middle
Professional Development for RTI (Really Tired Instructors)

Daralyn Hadden, Aliamanu Middle
Creating a New Culture - WASC Preparation

Shelby Hamamoto, Nimitz Elementary
Developing through Data:
How Analyzing Assessment Results Can Improve Student Success

Keith Hamana, Hickam Elementary
A Triple-Dose: An RTI Story

Shawna Helems, Kahaluu Elementary
Improving 21st Century After School Tutoring to Close Achievement Gap

Robyn Herbig, Waimea High
Moving from Minihunes to Menehunes

Jaime Hernandez, Honowai Elementary
Implementing an Individualized Coaching Process

Gary Kanamori, Pearl City Highlands Elementary
i-Ready Tutoring

Crystal Kawai, Kealakehe Elementary
English Language Development Pilot Program
for Non-English Proficient Kindergarteners

Sarah Kim, Jefferson Elementary

Melvin Lau, Aliamanu Elementary
Science Garden: Growing Inquiry and Understanding

Carli Masik, Kapolei Middle
A Sense of Place

Cherie Mineshima, Aliamanu Middle
Creating a New Culture - WASC Preparation

Darlene Muraoka, Waimea High
Waimea High RTI

Melanie Nakashima, King Kekaulike High
Strengthening Tier 1: Improving Co-Teaching at Kekaulike

Monica Nonaka, Konawaena Elementary
Using Thinking Maps to Support Critical Thinking and Writing

Mary Peters, Kahuku High & Intermediate
Identifying trends and patterns, or behaviors
that contribute to 9th grade failures

Angelica Pikula, Windward District Office
Understanding Barriers to Data Use

Bryan Rankie, Mauka Lani Elementary
Improving Fifth Grade Achievement in Mathematics

Randy Shinn, Ewa Makai Middle
Enjoy the Journey of Using Data

Jason Smith, Nu’uanu Elementary
Providing PD Through Math Committee
Based on SMART Goals Identified by the School

Dayne Snell-Quirit, Ho’okena Elementary
Lenses of Literacy

Rachelle Sparkman, Pu’u Kukui Elementary
Students and Teachers GROWING through RTI

Mariann Tabuchi, Kauai District Office
G Suite for Collaboration

Kimberly Tanaka, Pu’u Kukui Elementary
Students and Teachers GROWING through RTI

Dani Tokuda, Waialua Elementary
Launching Kindergarten iPad 1:1 - Go or No Go?

Malia Toyama, Honowai Elementary
Implementing an Individualized Coaching Process

Geraldine Valencia, Campbell High
Creating SBA/ACT and Math Awareness

Eric White, Highlands Intermediate
Highlands Leadership Conference 2017

Pua White, Ewa Beach Elementary
Empowering Passionate Community Members

Je Ann Williams, Hickam Elementary
A Triple-Dose: An RTI Story

Sara Wong, Ka’elepulu Elementary
Choose Love - Social Emotional Learning

Cherisse Yamada, Kaewai Elementary
Empowering Students and Teachers with Small Group Instruction
in English Language Arts

Paparazzi Photos (April 20, 2017)

Aiea-Moanalua-Radford Team Campbell-Kapolei Team

Castle-Kahuku Team Farrington-Kalani-Kaiser Team

Kailua-Kalaheo Team Kaimuki-McKinley-Roosevelt Team

     Kauai Team Kau-Keaau-Pahoa Team

 Baldwin-Kekaulike-Maui Team           Pearl City-Waipahu Team


Leilehua-Mililani-Waialua Team West Hawaii (HKKK) Team

Friday, March 31, 2017

Challenge equals Change

By: Sandy Cameli, EdD 
Educational Specialist, Hawaii Dept. of Education

Listening to the radio while driving to work, Kelly Clarkson belts out, "...what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.... stand a little taller...", and the words resonate in my mind posing more questions than answers. Do trying situations truly make us more resilient? Do ruffled feathers promote sleek and smoother presentations in the future? And, if Kelly can feel empowered by her own lyrics, then can the rest of us mortals feel bolstered by inspirational phrasing?

At a recent national conference, I had the privilege of listening to Mawi Asgedom (@MawiAsgedom) share his life experiences and educational impact through a simple graphic resembling a donut. Asgedom explained that we all have outer circles and inner circles from which we operate personal and professional growth. The outer circle encompasses our "not yets" or targets we aim to achieve; while the inner circle includes "can do's" or accomplishments. And as we expand our horizons, the inner circle will widen, lessening the distance to the outer circle's perimeter. Likewise, depending upon our lifelong learning aspirations, the outer circle will continue to expand pushing outward, ever so slightly away from our comfort zone in order to cultivate growth.

Figure 1: Asgedom, M. (2016)

For master teachers considering leadership roles, the inner circle has likely expanded to include pedagogy, content, classroom management and "multi-tasker extraordinaire" qualities; whereas the outer ring may still identify facilitation, communication and systems thinking opportunities for future growth.  Additionally, one's own reflective practice should be able to identify qualities within the "can do" circle, while also honestly determining which leadership traits - in the "not yet" sphere - are achievable based on timeline, environment and growth-readiness.

For teacher leaders comfortable in their inner circles and seeking outer-circle opportunities, a few ideas below can help to stretch those spheres based on the acronym CIRCLES (Communicate, Identify, Reflect, Challenge, Lead, Empower & Share):

  • (Communicate regularly: Oral and written communication are honed when utilized frequently. Athletes don't just warm up before a game, they practice in order to strengthen their skills. Communication is the same way - if you don't use it, you will lose it - so take advantage of opportunities to speak and write for various audiences.
  • (I) dentify goals: Set short- and long-term goals for personal and professional targets. Monitor and track the progress, share your growth and celebrate all accomplishments! Identify "not yets", and aim to move these goals into the "can do" circle.
  • (R) eflect on practice:  Be honest with yourself. Reflect on past and present successes to identify why they worked; Likewise, analyze previous missteps by asking yourself - How can I learn from and capitalize on my mistakes? Do I see the whole picture before making a call, or do I make snap decisions? What qualities do I admire in a leader and how do I grow these traits in myself? Take time to reflect on a regular basis so it's built into your leadership routine.
  • (C) hallenge self: Look for new ways of doing ordinary things. Get out of a rut or normal routine by completing tasks through new routes, with new resources and rejuvenation. Take risks. Michael Jordan once said, "We miss 100% of the shots we don't take" - if we're not willing to push ourselves, we're less likely to see any gains.
  • (L) ead by example: Leadership is not a title, it's an attitude. By modeling risk-taking, humility and relationship-building, you are leading. Take the time to invite others into collaborative growth opportunities which move initiatives and ideas forward. Anyone willing to pursue goals for the greater good is a leader.
  • (E) mpower others: The greatest difference between a boss and a leader boils down to those who point at others vs those who point toward a direction/goal/vision. As a leader, empowerment of others grows invested stakeholders for common missions and visions. Encourage peers to stretch themselves by inviting their ideas & contributions into shared decision-making opportunities.
  • (S) hare! We are social beings and collective learners, therefore we increase our capacity when collaborating with others. Consider starting small by sharing with a coaching partner or trio think-tank to build up a resource bank. Eventually, take the next step to make "what works" public for others to learn from and grow themselves. 

Leadership within the field of Education continues to evolve as our staff, schools and students morph into 21st century learning environments. Gone are the days of moving around in circles and feeling helpless by what teacher leaders cannot do; to TODAY where our "not yet" circles become "can do" spheres of influence making differences in the lives of staff and students in our schools!

Finally, it's important to remember:  

"If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you!"


Asgedom, M. (2016). POWERFUL EDUCATOR: Put the Growth Mindset into Action. Mawi Incorporated,