Wiseman, co-founder of Cultures of Dignity
, is a multiple New York Times
-bestselling author and educational thought leader. Her book, Queen Bees and Wannabees
, was the basis for the 2004 film Mean Girls
adapted by Tina Fey.
During her first session, a virtual assembly with all students in Tenth Age through Eighth Grade, Wiseman spoke on the importance of emotional intelligence and awareness, including individuals being able to own what they feel regardless of outside validation or conflict. She began her talk by asking students to look at a mood meter and find a word that described their current emotions.
“It’s about being able to say, ‘Yeah, this is how I’m feeling,’ and no one has the right to challenge that in the moment,” she said.
From there, she transitioned into speaking about leadership in the broadest possible terms, explaining that the word “leadership” can often be watered down or interpreted in many different ways, with one person’s definition often clashing with another. She also debunked a handful of leadership myths, like leaders not being allowed to ask for help or reveal their knowledge gaps.
Instead, she encouraged students to listen to their peers and ask for help when they need it, citing both as strengths – not weaknesses.
“I don’t know who told people in leadership that you can’t admit that you don’t know what you’re doing,” Wiseman said.
Prior to Thursday’s sessions, Wiseman met with a group of Middle School students to learn about their experiences with leadership, the conflicts that come with responsibility, and day-to-day life at Calvert. In all of her work with students, Wiseman said, this kind of one-on-one interaction is crucial for identifying key discussion topics, learning more about a school environment, and helping students to feel heard.
“You have a lot of expertise,” she told students.
Based on these focus groups, Wiseman anchored her talk with the importance of setting boundaries, identifying what “leadership” means to each person, and knowing the difference between acting bossy and being a reliable and respectable leader.
Being bossy, she explained, is refusing to hear other people’s ideas, telling others what to do instead of allowing them to learn by trying, and remaining inflexible and rigid to other people’s ideas and thoughts. Leadership, though, is sharing the credit, treating others with dignity, and making each contributor feel valued.
As Wiseman described, a “genius” description of their differences came from her discussions with students.
“Being bossy defeats the purpose of learning,” she shared. “That’s what education is for. Otherwise people will stop trying.”
After meeting with students virtually, Wiseman appeared on campus to host an afternoon workshop with all faculty in the Middle School Assembly Hall. Later, she summarized both sessions and built upon these lessons during a virtual event with parents. On Friday, April 8, Wiseman returned to campus for a lunchtime workshop with boys and girls in the Middle School.
Rosalind Wiseman's visit was sponsored by the Luke Stone ’86 Speaker Series at Calvert, an ILP program made possible by a generous donation from the Kahlert Foundation.
Thank you to all who contributed and made the day possible!