Search for the Story

Posted on: Tue, 11/05/2019 - 09:00

As our FCPS leadership training explores the tenets of servant leadership, we have been challenged to “search for the story behind the person.”

A leader serves both employees and customers. When employees are respected and valued, they in turn respect and value customers. A leader who learns about the individuals whom she serves conveys respect. What motivates the individual? What experiences has the individual had? Searching for the story behind the person is critically important for all educational leaders—whether principals, teachers, counselors, or support staff.

This tenet of servant leadership aligns perfectly with the research for trauma-informed practices. Understanding the impact of trauma on a person enables an educator to focus on root causes rather than solely reacting to behaviors. And while this is critically important, it can be very difficult to implement when behaviors escalate.

During one of the training sessions on Adverse Childhood Experiences, leaders were advised to adjust the typical paradigm of asking “what’s wrong with you” when a child misbehaves and instead asking, “what’s happened to you?” A shift that perfectly aligns with this tenet of servant leadership.

I recently visited an administrator who works with students exhibiting challenging behaviors. She described the students as “trauma survivors.”  She was able to recount the stories behind the students, and it was clear that she and the teachers valued the courage and resilience these students demonstrate every day. I value these educators demonstrating servant leadership by “searching for the story behind the person.”

For more about searching for the story behind the person, see the brief video Under the Surface