Saturday, December 27, 2014

Teachers are Leaders

Eric Sheninger posted an article that lists 5 powerful habits of successful leadership.  I am drawn to leadership articles since the role of teacher is a role of leader. We lead the students within our charge and each other each day. With this in mind, I took the habits listed and reflected on each habit from a teacher's point of view.

1. Create/communicate a vision of what the organization (class, students) can be.
My teaching partner and I do this in a large number of ways. First we synthesize standards, system-wide goals, students interests/needs, and the learning community's thoughts/ideas into a responsive, dynamic program that makes our learning/teaching vision visible--a vision that focuses on efforts that lead to engaged, empowered, well educated students. 

Next we communicate that vision in the following ways:
  • Weekly newsletter that includes notes about what the learning team has accomplished, what's happening now, and what's to come. This note also invites the learning community's ideas, collaboration, and questions.
  • School assembly share.
  • Service learning work.
  • Share to a wider PLN via social media.
2. Develop and communicate a purpose for the organization

We repeatedly share the following purpose:
  • Every child deserves, and is capable of, successful, meaningful learning. 
  • Successful learning depends on a commitment to time, attention, apt strategy, and the choice to learn.
  • A good education helps all students have greater voice and choice, and that voice and choice, in return, leads to greater personal happiness, success, and contribution to a better world. 
  • Teachers are there to serve the learning community (families, students, colleagues, leaders, and citizens) in ways that make a difference for student learning, empowerment, and engagement. 
  • Our collective mission is to learn in ways that are meaningful, useful, and life-enriching. 
3. Grasp the fundamental values necessary for human flourishing while living and communicating these values. 
  • Meeting basic needs is a first requirement to good learning and living. 
  • We support the school motto/value, "Kindness Matters."
  • We know that every learner is a mix of strengths and challenges. We work together to develop strengths and overcome challenges. 
  • Good learning depends on community care and investment towards and with one another.
  • We all work to develop apt learning to learn behaviors and attitudes
  • Balance is important, and good learning depends on discipline, community, commitment, and fun. 
4. Develop a strategy to turn the vision and purpose into a reality, consistent with these values.

We have put a large number of routine structures in place to make the teaching/learning vision and values a reality:
  • Weekly PLC and Team meetings.
  • Year-long standards-base list of teaching targets and learning events.
  • Regular assessment, reflection, review, and revision of efforts.
  • Student meetings as needed to nurture and forward the teaching/learning community.
  • Regular communication with learning team via newsletters, family meetings, emails, phone calls, and special events. 
5. Develop processes and feedback/coaching mechanisms that reinforce the behaviors and beliefs that lead to individual mastery and organizational success.
  • Regular student assessment and reflection via one-to-one meetings, project/assessment feedback and coaching, class meetings, goal setting, and accessible resources such as websites and teacher email response.
  • New Evaluation System that respond to teacher goals, efforts with systematic feedback and coaching. 
  • Self reflection via blogging and other efforts. 
This process leads me to the question, what does successful teaching/learning look like? In summary, I offer the following response:
  • Students understand the learning goals well, and systematically move towards reaching and exceeding those goals with teacher/peer/parent coaching.
  • The learning team strategically and collaboratively works together with and for students to lay a path towards continued standards-best, student-interest/need development.
  • The daily teaching/learning is exemplified by a dynamic group of engaged, happy, empowered, confident learners who work together to develop their own and others' learning in ways that are meaningful.