The most important work in schools occurs in classrooms.
As a school leader there are many priorities that compete each day for my attention and focus including instructional leadership, curriculum development and alignment, parent concerns, student enrollment, test scores, student discipline, hiring and recruitment, staff evaluations, and professional development – just to name a few. In the fast pace environment of an international school, there are no shortage of priorities, programs, and initiatives.
Although many of these are important and deserve time and attention, nothing is more important than supporting the work that occurs in classrooms. As an instructional leader, I strive to create an environment, create a culture, that priorities the space for teachers to focus the majority of their time and attention on teaching and learning. This requires an ongoing effort to increase communication between all stakeholders, organized access to resources, and the prioritizing of the individual professional development of teachers.
I believe that teachers do their best work when they are empowered through structure and autonomy. Of course, autonomy is not the same thing as abandonment. However, the administrative creep towards micromanaging can stifle the creativity, ingenuity, and adaptability of teachers to do their best work to facilitate student learning. Thus it is the administrator’s job to support the work of teaching and learning through student centered coaching, individualized goal setting, routine feedback, and a keen understanding of the daily pressures that govern a teacher’s day to day experience.
Leadership is neither finite nor something to be hoarded. As such, I value the creation and development of purpose driven teams, distributed decision making, transparency, and the mentoring of teacher-leaders. Schools need to be places where teachers are encouraged to take on new challenges to grow professionally.
Leadership requires authenticity, sound judgement, clear communication, endless patience, authentic empathy, and decisiveness. In my many conversations and interactions with students, parents, and teachers, these are the skills and lenses that guide me. Of course, I don’t always get it right the first time. However, I am committed to not allowing my ego or my pride to get in the way of reflecting, learning, and improving. This is what I expect of students and teachers and this is what I model each day.