Where does ‘I’ fit in?

We hear all the time that “I” doesn’t belong in educational leadership. I wholeheartedly agree that true teamwork and collaboration exist when ‘we’ and ‘our’ is the norm. Our students deserve us to have a collective ownership over creating the conditions for success for all of them.

There is no ‘I’ in team.

I was mentored by an educational leader who lived and breathed this idea. I began to think that not all swear words contained four letters, that there was a swear word with just one letter–I.

There were times when this was a bit perplexing…how could I tell a teacher I was proud of her? I felt like I had to say, “we are proud of you because…”. But, then, who was the ‘we’?

Where does ‘I’ fit in educational leadership? In our focus on collaboration and teamwork, do we whitewash individual accountability and achievement? We have collective ownership of the successes and the failures in a school if we work as a team, yet within that framework, is there a place for ‘I’?


  • I am sorry…
  • I am proud of you because…
  • I stand with you.
  • I am worried about…
  • I wonder…
  • I have an idea…
  • I learned something new!

What do you think? Where does ‘I’ belong in the schoolhouse?

We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.     -Cesar Chavez

Image credit: HERE

3 thoughts on “Where does ‘I’ fit in?”

  1. This is great. Reminds of when I here the word my used. My school, my teachers… I use the word I when things are not working or I have made a mistake. I use the word we when we have success. A leader should never take all of the credit nor pass the blame.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great wonderings! I have wondered the same. I like your I prompts. One way I differentiate it is that leaders use we to acknowledge the teamwork behind initiatives, projects, and big ideas, leaders never accept praise on their own, “we worked hard”. However, a leader can have a difficult or positive conversation with an individual and not make it about a fictional “we”.

    Liked by 1 person

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