Last week, Chris shared his answers to to an old blog post by George Couros called “5 Questions You Should Ask Your Leader”. As I contemplated my blog post this week, I kept coming back to these questions and thought it might be nice for you to have my perspective on these questions too. If you recall at our last staff meeting, I may have mentioned that this year I am leading differently than I have in the past. One of my goals is to be very clear about my values and beliefs. Where in years past I may have held back sharing my truth, this year I am embracing vulnerability and being completely open. I look forward to talking more about these ideas
- What are some ways you connect with your school community (fostering effective relationships)?
I believe that relationships are The Most Important aspect of our work! Relationships cannot be overstated. We need to connect to our students, their parents, and our colleagues. The best way that I have found to connect with the school community is to be available. I strive to be out of my office for the majority of the day, and I know I can be better! I also believe that effective communication helps develop relationships, which is why the Friday Focus and In the Middle are important for our front office team to develop. I hope to continue sharing my truth through these weekly communications.
- What are some areas of teaching and learning that you can lead in the school (Instructional Leadership)? Instructional leadership is such an important aspect of my position. I understand that there are also managerial aspects to an administrator’s role. Finding a balance between these responsibilities can be a challenge and when it happens I can provide leadership in the following areas:
- Community Building in the Classroom (Capturing Kids Hearts, Love and Logic)
- Establishing Respect and Rapport
- Coaching Cycles/ Formative Feedback Loops
- Curriculum Development (UbD)
- Technology Integration
- Formative Assessment strategies
- Student motivation
- Transition programming
- What are you hoping teaching and learning looks like in your school and how do you communicate that vision (Embodying Visionary Leadership)?
My hope is that we, collectively and inclusively Love Our People, all of our people. This starts with our colleagues including teachers, aides, custodian, office and kitchen staff. This includes ALL of our students, students who are typically programmed, those who have a support program in place such as a 504 or IEP, and especially those who push us away. If we treat one another with respect, we are modeling a lifelong skill that will benefit our students for the rest of their lives. We also develop trust with one another. Trust is the foundation for success. We can do it alone, but it will be much better if we do the work together. I also want learning to be messy and uncomfortable. As I shared in our first round of grade level meetings, there will always be barriers to overcome, so let’s practice overcoming challenges in school. I believe in communicating this vision in everything that I do and say throughout my day. We will continue to develop these skills as a community through our staff meetings, class meetings and communication home to parents.
- How do you build leadership capacity in your schools?
Everyone in this school is a leader. Whether or not you realize it, you lead every single day. Your leadership has a profound impact on those around you both staff and students. I will strive to provide opportunities for you to channel your gifts through informal and formal roles in the building and for the district. I look forward to seeing some of you step into these roles as the year progresses and look forward to supporting your growth as a leader in this building.
- What will be your “fingerprints” on this building after you leave (creating sustainable change)?
My “fingerprints”? I prefer our fingerprints. What will we do to create sustainable change? I believe we need to establish an inclusive, positive and supportive building culture. What do I mean by that? Peter Drucker wisely said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” If we want to do anything well we need to be sure that our culture is inclusive, positive and supportive, otherwise all efforts of implementing strategy such as PBIS, will be for naught. At Whitnall Middle School, we struggle with pockets of positive culture. These pockets are exclusive groups within our building who support one another in ways that I would expect us ALL to support one another. If culture is defined as “the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group” then our culture is currently exclusive. Either you are in or you are not. I am not a fan of exclusivity. I believe strongly that as a public institution we need to be inclusive and inclusive across the board. The students that walk in our doors are ALL of our students and we will work hard to do what is best for ALL of them. The staff that walk in the doors are ALL of our colleagues, none better or worse than another, all bringing gifts and talents to share. We are all working towards the same goals and if we unite our efforts there will be no stopping us! If we remain divided, we will never reach our full potential. With a positive, inclusive and supportive building culture for ALL, we will truly be able to soar to great heights with personalizing learning!