April 22, 2024

It can be you: Why educational leadership is for anyone

Educational Leadership and Mentorship course at the Taylor Institute is an opportunity for academic staff to start initiatives in teaching and learning
A woman with brown skin and brown hair in a ponytail, sits at a table with a laptop and is smiling. Behind her there are other people on laptops.
Mike Tan

Leadership is hard. And getting started can feel a bit daunting. How does one go about becoming a leader? For Dr. Natasha Kenny, PhD, and Dr. Leslie Reid, PhD, educational leadership isn't a title or credentials — it's relationship building, creating community and influencing positive change in teaching and learning practices.

"Teaching and learning are best enhanced when communities of people work together," says Reid. She should know —Reid is a teaching professor and was vice-provost, teaching and learning from 2018–2023.

Leslie Reid, a white woman with dark curly hair, wearing a red blazer and a scarf, smiles inside the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

Leslie Reid, co-facilitator of the Educational Leadership and Mentorship course.

Mike Tan

For academic staff who are curious about influencing change in teaching and learning spaces, Reid and Kenny, senior director of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning (TI), are co-facilitating the upcoming Educational Leadership and Mentorship course offered by the TI.

Over four days in May, participants will receive guidance on how to get started on teaching and learning initiatives within a community-focused cohort of like-minded educators.

"Everyone has an opportunity to implement an initiative as part of this course and what I love about that is the ripple effect it has. We have seen the transformation of teaching and learning spaces — they're leaning into something and trying it out in their local context," says Kenny. 

"What this course offers," says Reid, "is the opportunity to find out that it can be you — you can be the one to make something happen in your department, unit, or classroom." 

This year, the course will be offered fully in person to further facilitate relationship and conversation. Kenny acknowledges it can be hard to take the time for professional learning—but she encourages anyone interested to view it as a gift to themselves to have space and time to think about their values and beliefs on leadership and how to influence change moving forward:

"How can I continue to take incremental steps towards influencing change in ways that are most meaningful to me, but also meaningful to my own local context of teaching and learning?" 

Natasha Kenny, a white woman with straight grey hair, wearing a black shirt and smiling inside the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

Natasha Kenny, co-facilitator of the Educational Leadership and Mentorship course.

Mike Tan

One major focus of the course is the more intangible qualities of leadership — what might be called the 'affective dimensions of leadership.' Kenny says this is something that sets this educational leadership course apart.

"Leadership is hard and in this course, we have those conversations about how much of yourself goes into being a leader. We ask, what barriers are you going to face and how are you going to overcome them? We talk about the internal experience but also how to work with the experience of others," says Kenny.

It's through these important conversations that participants can work out the complexities of educational leadership and community-building together.

"It's a great opportunity to design projects you've had your eye on doing but it's also, honestly, a great opportunity to make new friends across the academy," says Reid.

The course on Educational Leadership and Mentorship runs from May 27 to 30 at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. Registration closes on May 13, 2024.

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