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Monday, February 13, 2017

Inspired by Good Leadership

When I read Massachusetts' Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's ESSA report, I was inspired. In a sense, the report provides a roadmap for our efforts as educators--a road map that I value for the most part.

This report reminded me of what good leadership does. Good leadership does not disappoint. They stay ahead of the curve providing inspiring words, plans, and opportunity for conversation and response. They respectfully, transparently, and fairly work with constituents to develop programs that serve students and families well.

In Massachusetts we are fortunate to be led by such a thoughtful state department of education as well as strong union leadership and the leadership of many more committed citizens, communities, and organizations.

Good leadership does not set up roadblocks to good work, but instead works to streamline and promote avenues of excellent service and growth. Good leadership anticipates debate, discussion, and questions and works with lead time to gather data and information before finalizing plans--they lead the team in inclusive ways that elevate all stakeholders.

Recently during the Women's March on Washington, documentary filmmaker, author, and activist, Michael Moore, stated that states that didn't vote for Donald Trump need to lead the country by doing what is right and good in their states. As a teacher in Massachusetts I am fortunate to have the leadership of state and union to support the good work I'm able to do and the collective good work we're able to do as teaching/learning teams to foster best practices for all students.

Also inspiring and connected to this discussion were the wise words I heard on Saturday night as Stephen Ainlay, the President of Union College in Schenectady, New York, addressed the college football players at their banquet. Ainlay talked about the recent visit to the college by author and New York Times writer, Thomas L Friedman. Ainlay recommended that we all read Friedman's latest book, Thank you for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration, and emphasized Friedman's words that described the power of strong communities that exist everywhere, communities that are doing great work with one another. As I looked at the quotes from Friedman's book, I realized that this is a book I must read in order to gain a good perspective on the work I do to teach well. In this regard, both Ainlay and Friedman are offering inspiring leadership. (Note the first thing my son said to me when I met him at Union College was that he attended an inspiring talk by Friedman--he was obviously inspired.)

Where does the good leadership in your arenas lie? How do you make time to listen to, learn from, and reflect on the wise words and actions of that leadership? How will you embed that wisdom into your teaching/learning program? These are good questions, questions that I'll think about, and questions that bring me back to one more vignette, a story I repeat often, and that's the story of how my husband's former boss and now Governor of Massachusetts would inspire his employees every Friday with an inspirational note--he was a good leader and though I don't always agree with him as governor, I continue to be inspired by his leadership in many, many ways.