Summer…it’s a time of water play, dirt digging, popsicles, concerts in the park, bike rides, long walks, barbeques, cool evening breezes, and so much more. For educators, summer is accompanied by a unique brand of relaxation. It’s not that we don’t work. It’s that our work changes. For me, one of those changes comes in the balance between reflective development and application. During the school year, application is key. During the school year I spend most of my time at a building filled with people; a joyful place to be; a wonderful way to function. During the summer, I’m quite often working alone, or with small groups of people in planning or developmental sessions.
Frequently, during the summer, I get to put my brain to the task of considering the experiences I’ve had, the goals I intend to accomplish, the methods I might employ, the philosophies I hold, the core values that I function from, and various other aspects of the leadership, learning, and service pathways I’m on. It’s work, but it’s a different kind of work. A summer “break,” with the ability to stop and start, gives educators enhanced opportunities for critical reflection, it fosters continuous learning and growth, it perpetuates positive progress, it empowers us to dig deeper, and with all of the above as happy consequences…it provides unequalled time and space for thoughtful questioning.
Below are a few questions that I’ve been asking myself so far this summer. I don’t have comprehensive answers, but I find that asking the questions and giving them some analytical thought is a good way to start. I’d love to read your input on any and all if you’re so inspired to comment.
Among the goals I have for the upcoming school year are: the intentional development of my ability to perpetuate shared leadership, the building of an autonomy-supportive school culture, the empowering of individual and collective growth through independence and healthy interdependence, and the finding/using of effective strategies for authentically emphasizing every stakeholder’s value.
In what ways do I currently show those I serve that they are valued? How can I enhance that practice as I grow in my leadership/learning capacity?
I know that I am not alone in the belief that shared leadership is fundamental to individual and collective achievement in any organization…arguably even more so in schools. Schools are meant to be joyful learning spaces for diverse populations of stokeholds, primarily students, but including faculty, parents, and administrators. Among the many critical issues to consider when leading a school community, none are more important than the valuing of people and building of positive relationships. I find that listening with an open mind, thinking critically about input and ideas, and working hard to include all voices in forward progress helps perpetuate a genuine sense of value among those I serve.
What strategies can I use in my school community to perpetuate autonomy while maintaining the collective aim of student achievement, & learning/growth for all?
Autonomy is a key ingredient for learners of all ages, and so is collaboration. I find that when we come to growth independently and collaboratively, we come to growth authentically. As members of my learning community approach me with their thoughts and ideas during the upcoming school year, I plan to ask these types of questions:
“What can I do to support that effort?”
“How can I help as you explore that idea?”
“In what ways can I contribute to the pursuit of that vision?”
Then I plan to act on the subsequent answers, and work hard to promote collaboration as progress unfolds.
How can I best use my practice to positively impact those I serve? What are some ways in which I can effectively communicate my learning philosophy/practice?
A love for learning via exploration, along with a commitment to facing setbacks as opportunities, is well taught by way of authentic modeling. Through reflection, and with patience, I will continue working on exposing my process with intention. Transparency, both in times of success and in times of challenge, is one way that school leaders can help others feel comfortable with the ups and downs of their individual and collective growth & development.
Dream Big. Work Hard. Be Well.