Philosophy of School Leadership
A workshop at Columbia University's Teachers College in March of 2017 left a particular impression on me. It was a motivational session for school administrators by Drew Dudley (twitter @DayOneDrew), and I learned the benefits of approaching every new day with the energy, dedication, focus and will to succeed as if every new day is my first day on the job. That, combined with my own personal desire to improve something each and every day, would help me become a better school leader. What follows are a few of the elements that contribute to my leadership philosophy.
First and foremost, my personal values include respect for individual differences, treating teachers as practitioners in professional education, empathizing with parents who face great challenges in raising their children, and helping all of us balance our desires for the young learners in our charge to grow into content, successful, and contributing members of families and society.
What I expect of myself: An elementary principal experiences no two days that are ever the same! My own professional goals for the school year include becoming a better instructional leader in the building. This includes more focused conversations with teachers about instruction, better follow-up and follow-through as a servant leader, and increased support that is specific to the individual needs of our students. Through the infinite demands, challenges, and expectations, I am guided by a few key principles:
- Getting to know the personalities of each child that walks through our door.
- Knowing each teacher's strengths and valuing their expertise and experience.
- Accepting change. I embrace - yes, truly embrace - the written words of Canadian philosopher Neal Peart: "nothing is permanent, but change is." And as part of that, the need to be flexible.
- I will carry out my responsibilities by making decisions grounded in what I believe - in my role as school principal - is most appropriate for the child.
What I will not accept of our parents, our teachers or of myself:
- From our parents, I will not accept disrespect for public education, our professional teaching staff, or the processes that are in place for us to effectively service the needs of nearly 500 young learners.
- From our teachers, I will not accept anything less than full dedication to the growth and progress of each child in your charge, the need to individualize instruction (to meet the learner where he or she is, based solely on his or her needs), or a lack of clear, focused, concise, respectful communication with parents. (Based this principal's experience in this community, any incidents similar to the above are few and far between. New Milford is a wonderful town filled with hard-working parents dedicated to their families, and our teachers are smart, loving, and focused on finding a way to connect with each child so that they make progress throughout each school year.)
- From myself, I will not accept anything less than the belief that each day brings opportunities for improvement, success, achievement, and having a positive impact on others.
These are some fundamental concepts as I approach another Day One as the principal of B. F. Gibbs Elementary School.
Updated July 24, 2018