Monday, September 03, 2018

Teaching in Trump Times

To me, Trump is an overcorrection--his presidency has demonstrated what happens when we elect an undisciplined leader who demonstrates little empathy, character, honesty, or investment in the job. I don't want to be a teacher or leader like that. His example demonstrates to me who I don't want to be.

Disciplined leaders use their words and actions carefully. They take care with the work they do and people they serve. They don't use words and actions carelessly, but instead work with others to do the best possible work with the mission, vision, and oath of office they hold in mind. Robert Mueller is an example of a disciplined leader. Barack Obama is an example of a disciplined leader.

As educators we need to be disciplined too--disciplined with our words, our actions, our vision, and mission.

Lies usually arise when people make mistakes, try to cheat, or are embarrassed about the truth. As the quote above demonstrates, when we lie, we simply dig a ditch for ourselves--a ditch of disrespect, lack of integrity, and poor character. Even when difficult, it is critical that we tell the truth, and if a truth is one that we are not ready to tell, then it's best to stay quiet rather than lie. Those who continually lie are not worthy of our respect and certainly do not make good leaders.

It can be difficult for educators to be honest at times since educators often have to stand up and speak out for what is right and good. They have to own error and report serious and difficult situations. To stay honest, it's best to tackle difficult issues earlier than later. When we do that, we can easily resolve a situation before it becomes too big and problematic. This kind of work keeps us honest and makes us good teachers and leaders.

No one has the monopoly on what is right and good--we all are a mix of strengths and challenges. We fool ourselves if we try to teach and lead in ways that negate our vulnerabilities or our strengths. We have to understand this, own it, and use it to be empathetic to our own shortcomings, experiences, and challenges as well as the shortcomings, experiences, and challenges others face. To look at every situation with an empathetic eye and attitude is to better be able to work with that situation and build towards betterment. To teach or lead without empathy is to not teach or lead well.

Good Character
Admirable and successful leaders and teachers exemplify good character. It is essential to visit, reflect upon, and work at the attributes of good character continually in an effort to be as good a teacher and leader as you can be. To teach and promote the attributes of good character is to help build positive, proactive communities--the kinds of communities that help everyone reach for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Good leaders and teachers invest in their work. They take their job description, oaths of office, mission, and vision seriously and invest good time, effort, creativity, study, and energy into that endeavor. To invest well is to know the job well. It is to work with others to reach positive results, and it means using your energy, time, and strengths thoughtfully in order to work successfully with the job's mission and vision in  mind. Those who work only for themselves rather than the mission or vision for the job, do not teach or lead well--those people work for ambition alone rather than mission and vision.

President Trump demonstrates poor character continuously with his mistruths, blaming, threatening, name-calling, and undisciplined use of words and actions. In my opinion, he is a poor leader who puts his personal ambitions above a promising mission and vision for our country and people. I use his example and the example of his passive, self-serving cronies as what not to be as I strive to teach and lead well in the year ahead.