So much of the learning that has accompanied my education has had nothing to do with a classroom. I have personally benefited by being surrounded by people who have modeled intelligence and character. These people became my models, my heroes. Why do we love heroes so much? They give us something to aspire to, a hope of what we can become ourselves. Today, for example we stop to recognize the leadership and sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Our country is still feeling the effect of his efforts to educate and promote peace through reconciliation between people. I am profoundly reminded in a world filled with much social conflict, that we have come far in many areas, but yet have so far to go. The future will require leaders who can handle some huge questions. We consistently need to raise up in our community and schools, leaders who aren’t afraid to question, think, and demonstrate deep character.
We talk a lot about the need for societal change, but truthfully that is a macro level issue that will only be solved with a micro level solution – me. For real change to occur I need to exhibit it, by bringing real ideas and exemplary character to the table. In my life I have had some fantastic examples of leadership through my grandmother, parents, and other men who invested in me. All of these people have taught me through their example the power of relationship and how it impacts change.
My grandmother was in the banking industry for over 30 years and would tell me story after story about how she dealt with difficult people and different types of people of all colors and classes. I learned more often by sitting at her feet than in a classroom. Those skills she imparted I carry with me today as I see the world as my classroom. However, at a much more concrete level I understand that my greatest influence currently is the school building where I serve as an administrator.
When I walk through those school doors each day I’m reminded that my most powerful teaching happens through my example.
Some Helpful questions as I Model Learning
- How can I affect the culture of my school today through relationship building, trust giving, and empowering personal ownership of learning whether social or intellectual?
- What do I want students and staff to understand about their value as learners? What does that look like?
- Is there one person in particular I could be mentoring and building capacity, whether a student or staff team member? This extends beyond your core leadership team.
- Am I leading the way by modeling being an active, engaged, & life long learner? Am I challenging myself to grow as much as I am my team?
- Are all decisions being made with the highest ethics and integrity possible?
There is a laundry list of areas in life I have not figured out but this is one I am working on daily. Let us not be so short sighted to believe that the best learning is from a book or a standardized skill, but instead through the power of a person’s model.
Grow. Lead. Serve. -Jeff
The only way we’re going to get from where we are to where we want to be is through staff development…when you talk about school improvement, your talking about people improvement. That’s the only way to improve schools. -Ernest Boyer (Principal as Staff Developer)
I’m not very good at resolutions. In fact, I don’t like to write things down. This is all very interesting to consider knowing that I am called “organized” by those who know me. My brain just doesn’t think in these linear ways of lists and so on. However, surely I can commit to at least one word for 2015. The challenge created in my #Sunchat PLC Twitter chat this morning was to identify that one word that you could stick with this year, that could sum it all up for you. Now being an educator, words are easy. In fact, I hate that I even have to be nailed down by one word, I am very wordy after all. However, the brevity is refreshing and forces focus.
So the word – Tenacity. This next year I want to be committed to dogged determination, to hold a firm grip in all areas of my life.
As an administrator this year I want to be tenacious about…
Giving students a reason for “Why School”
Creativity and Innovation
Cultivating a strong school culture
Personally learning and growing because people count on me
Holding my wife and kids closer literally and emotionally (most important!)
Praying more intentionally
The list doesn’t end because each day I will add something to it. Will I have off days, you bet. However, I am writing tonight on my bathroom mirror (hope you are cool with that babe) in dry erase marker TENACITY, a great visual reminder each day to be committed to what I am committed to.
“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity. – Louis Pasteur
Grow. Lead. Serve. -Jeff