1. I love this story, and am so glad for all of us that you had the experience withe the second principal. This is EXACTLY who I aspire to be as a principal.

  2. Thank you fro this post. The reason I am doing what I am now is because I too had a leader who saw strengths in me that I didn’t see. She nurtured me, allowed me to blossom and grow, and then when she saw I was ready to fly she pushed me out of the nest. I hope I can do the same for educators with whom I collaborate. Her name is Margaret MacLean. I cannot thank her enough.

  3. I wonder at the final quote regarding moving from incompetence to mediocrity contrasted with moving someone from “First Rate to excellence.” My experience has been fairly consistent in seeing very few incompetent educators transition even to mediocrity despite lots of support and effort from leadership to help them. One key determinate is usually motivation and mindset of the incompetent teacher or administrator. Those who are unwilling to look at their performance critically and work to improve or who are simply apathetic or burnt out, will not usually improve no matter how much support they receive. Someone who is willing to reflect on their practice and put in the work to overcome their deficiencies will sometimes be able to improve. Because of this, most schools don’t really invest a lot of time and energy trying to help those who demonstrate incompetence. Schools let them go, or if they somehow have tenure, they move them around and try to find a place they will do the least harm. The first-rate teachers with a passion and drive to make a difference receive lots of support and opportunity to hone their craft and move towards excellence. These are, after all, the educators who make the biggest impact on a school. It is the middle ground I find most often ignored in education. The teacher who is doing an average job rarely receives our attention or assistance in moving towards excellence. They fly under the radar. Taking the time to dig in and find the hidden strengths and talents and passions in these educators can often yield a surprising jump in their performance and impact so many students.

  4. Jil

    Like my mom says, “when you point a finger at someone, 3 fingers point back at you”. Try it!

  5. Moe

    I enjoy reading this story. I have to know the strength and the weakness of my teachers. Then I push them move froward by working with their strengths. I don’t target their weaknesses it will just disappeared. Thanks for the article.

  6. Dear George,
    I’ve had a similar experience. One person in a leadership position in my previous school once told me “you don’t have the skills” (as I was applying for the “Tech integrator” position) and many other nasty comments in a passive aggressive way. This is the first time I write anything publicly about this experience.
    My new school is totally the opposite. I feel so empowered here. I feel that I have so much more control over my own work and I can be creative. This inspire others.
    Great leadership is key! Leaders who spend more time encouraging you than finding accountability for mistakes. Leadership who says YES to Professional Development. Leadership who is human and present in the teaching environment. Love my school!

  7. This quote from your post really caught my attention: “… we always need to look and try to find the good before we judge the bad.” That is far more powerful to me than thinking / saying ‘there’s good in almost everyone.’ And I think that’s because it reminds us of the timeline. If we seek first to see the less glaring / obvious good in someone, I believe it might put that ‘glaring’ weakness in better perspective. This makes the subsequent actions needed more clear cut – including quite possibly no action or maybe limited to an honest dialogue.

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