I wanted to think about my own “Educational Leadership Philosophy” and put it into words as I come into the new school year. As I write this down, I love the picture below that reminds me it is not only what we say, but what we do that matters.
Education and school have traditionally been the hub of our communities. Not only for the wisdom and knowledge that they create for our present and future, but for the connections that they create amongst a community. Growing up in a small town, teachers were revered and respected for the work that they did with students, and they always made an effort to connect with parents to bring them in on the learning process of their child, not just with developing intelligence, but developing students as people. The notion of, “it takes a village”, is something that I believe in deeply, and believe that it is more important now than ever.
As a leader, I believe in bringing a community together to share leadership in many different avenues. In a quote from Tom Peters, he states that “leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” In a school community, this starts at the top in working with others to develop their leadership in every position and level of school. By focusing on an individual’s strengths, you show that you value their expertise first, before you look to help them develop in other areas. This strength-based focus helps to build a relationship with each individual, pushing them to be better every day. When the leader of an organization has this belief and proves it through actions, it trickles down to students in the classroom. The more experience I have in leadership, the more I see that effective teachers are effective leaders, and have this same strength-based approach with their students. If we have a community that focus on building leadership in all areas, we are more likely to be successful within our vision.
Through this value on developing leadership, our schools are more open not only to navigate but to lead change as well. As society continues to change, schools need to adapt to best serve our students for their future as well as their present. Those that are willing to adapt and learn from change now, will be the ones that are most likely to be successful in the future. As we see different jobs being created in our world, while other jobs are becoming irrelevant, we look to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs in schools. This is often created by instilling a sense of “intrapreneurial spirit” within educators that are always looking to develop and further the organization. While we look and build on what has worked in the past, we must also continuously look forward.
One of those changes in our world is a shift to an open and transparent environment. As an administrator, I have the opportunity to become better by continuously being able to visit classrooms and see what the most effective teachers do. Peers do not have this same opportunity because of our physical environment. Through the use of different technologies such as blogging and Twitter, we open up our classrooms to other educators not only in our own schools, but to schools around the world to bring them in on this collaboration. As I always focus on “what is best for kids”, it is crucial that we look to not only help our own students, but how we can help other students from around the globe as well. As we tell our students when they walk into our schools, we must ensure that we create a culture of sharing within our own community to learn from others around the world, as well as within our own community. The most innovative environments outside of school tap into the “wisdom of the room” and bring in different voices to continuously learn and grow; schools must do the same.
To be successful, people must have a purpose within our organization. This included parents who are a great untapped resource within our own communities. We can no longer have children going home and being asked the question, “what did you learn today?”, and responding with, “nothing.” By opening the doors to our classrooms through both physical and virtual environments, we have the opportunity to change the conversation at home. Parents are able to be actively involved in the process of learning, leading to a higher opportunity for success of each child. The more we can involve parents in this process at home, the more likely students will be successful in school, and beyond. This community support is imperative.
In summary, building relationships, developing leadership, and focusing on school as the “hub” of our community,we are more likely to create an environment where our students are building a bright future both today and tomorrow. By looking at what worked in the past while also looking to develop our future, our community is more likely to be able to come together to create the schools our kids need.