I have been spending a lot of time working on the Connected Principals website to ensure everything is up and running on this collaborative blog. It has been so powerful to connect with other educators, not only in reading the information that they share, but through the discussions that we have had about the purpose of the site and how we can move things forward. I have found this shared visioning process to be so rewarding, especially working with educators from all different parts of the world. It is amazing how ideas can bring people together.
Yesterday, I wrote some initial ideas for the principles of the website after a Skype conversation with Patrick Larkin. Starting with some ideas, and posting them through the blog, it was amazing to read through the comments of so many dedicated educators. After reading and taking these comments, here is the final draft that was posted on the website last night.
The following guiding principles are the basis for the views represented by the contributors of Connected Principals:1. All of our decisions focus first on what meets the needs of the children we serve. All other elements of our decision making process are secondary to this objective. The students we serve are our greatest resource in schools.
2. Building strong relationships is the first basis of creating a strong school environment. Trust is the first element; both extending it and earning it.
3. It is imperative we value the gifts, contributions and uniqueness of each individual, whether student, staff, or parent.
4. We can do more together than we can alone. Opportunities need to be created for distributed leadership within our school for all staff; as administrators we need to ensure we build upon the strengths of our staff. We must ensure that we are working together as an educator community to continue to move education forward.
5. All educators need to be lifelong learners. Only through continuous reflection, respectful conversation, and collaboration will we ensure that we are continuously serving the needs of our students. As a whole, we must be attentive to and thoughtful about the myriad of ways in which the world is fast changing, and ensure that we are in continued alignment with the needs and demands of the changing world without ever abandoning core principles.
6. All members of our school community should be given opportunities to become leaders. This includes students, staff, and parents.
7. Parents are our partners in education. We must ensure that their voice is heard and that they are given opportunities to contribute to creating the best environment for our students.
8. Critical thinking and deep learning opportunities for our students are necessary to ensure that they become strong 21st century citizens. We must know the passions of our students and create learning opportunities based on these. Students need to be able to think, write, and create as we prepare them for future opportunities that may not currently exist. We must ensure that we also create professional development opportunities for our staff to learn alongside our students and provide them ways to further their own knowledge in a deep, purposeful, and relevant way.
9. Technology should be used to create opportunities for students to ensure that we are meeting their needs and creating opportunities to network and learn from others. It is necessary to ensure that students become strong 21st century citizens with a broad worldview. We need to include the world in our teaching, learning and thinking. As educators, we must also take opportunities to use social media to connect with educators around the world that have different perspectives and experiences. The more we connect, the more we learn.
10. We care about our results; we seek to educate for deep understanding and transferable skills, and seek to use the right data to measure our outcomes and use that data not to punish but to inform our organizations’ continuous learning and development. Through this reflection of our journey, we truly will be able to move forward.
As administrators we need to be transparent, open, and honest. These principles should not only be embodied in the writing on this forum, but they must also be personified continuously within our respective school communities.
Although the term “final draft” does not really apply to anything that is on a website, I am so happy not only with the outcome of the principles we created, but with the process.
What I learned through all of this, is that we need to create these opportunities more for our students in the classroom. I have always believed it is great to connect with others and learn with them, but I am always appreciative of the times I get to connect and collaborate with others. I have a saying in my school; “I don’t want my ideas, I want the best ideas.” When we work in teams as educators, it seems that we always have the ability to come up with these “best ideas”. We need to make sure we give students the same chance.