Leadership Lessons From Ms. Frizzle

In the 80s and 90s, Ms. Frizzle and her Magic School Bus were impossible for a kid to avoid. There were books, TV shows, and even video games, all with the parent/teacher/Presidential blessing of being labeled “educational!” And, to be honest – they were actually pretty great. With author Joanna Cole‘s passing, I was looking back on and remembering the series. True to the meme, “some of y’all never read Magic Schoolbus and it shows,” here are three essential leadership tips from the teaching legend Ms. Frizzle:

Have a magic school bus. If not literally, figuratively will do just fine. It’s a leader’s job to be able to transport people’s imaginations forward and backward in time, and up and down in scale. Ms. Frizzle brought the past, future, biggest picture, and tiniest detail to life for her students by taking them there. Great leaders use stories to transport people to witness their vision.

Be humble enough to not know everything, and confident enough to demand a search for an answer. The kids in the class were always asking if she knew everything. I mean, she had a magic school bus, so perfect knowledge of the universe wasn’t exactly off the table. Still, not only would she humbly deny knowing everything, she would jiu-jitsu their curiosity into a reason to lead them in search of an answer. Great leaders balance humility with fostering curiosity and leading bravely into the unknown.

Laugh (or at least smile) in the face of danger. About to be murdered by a giant spider? Losing hope while small enough to be traveling through the human body? Ms. Frizzle was always grinning ear to ear. Great leaders have no fear of a challenge or obstacle. It doesn’t mean they don’t feel pressured or don’t get scared. It does mean they’re open to the possibilities of the future, accepting the good with the bad. Once we’ve accepted, we can laugh and smile.

Teachers are here to teach. They find a way to engage their class and bring the lessons to life. Leaders are here to lead. It’s a journey and it takes imagination. A lot of imagination, and maybe even a Magic School Bus. Thanks for all the lessons Ms. Frizzle, and especially you Mrs. Cole.

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