An excerpt from my philosophy of education originally written in 2010, revised in 2013.
WHO AM I IN EDUCATION?
The apparent trend is that children of teachers generally become educators themselves. Since I was young boy, I have consistently been exposed to various aspects of the teaching profession. The enthusiasm and commitment revealed through my family’s actions have been written on my heart. However, through my professional experiences, I have developed my own individuality and style within the education realm, and imposed those beliefs within my daily endeavors. I believe it’s important to embody three principle aspects as an instructional leader: consistency, impartiality, and authenticity.
Consistency: First, I believe it’s important to have a clear, well-designed vision for the entire school community, including educators, learners, administrators, parents, as well as for campus principal. If each member understands his/her responsibility and the importance of his/her roles inside and outside of the classroom, the entire learning community will be successful. Without a vision, the learning community, as well as the campus leader, lack purpose; consequently, school improvement and effectiveness will be hindered. As a teacher, my learners participated in the development of our classroom and learner expectations at the beginning of the school year; they reflected on past experiences and evaluated which learning-environment qualities provided opportunities for excellence, and which ones hindered their progress towards that goal. These expectations became the compass of our environment. Likewise, a campus must embrace a well-defined compass to impact learner success. As the campus leader, I desire for all stakeholders to have an active role in the learning community. When stakeholder voice is validated and integrated into the fabric of the school culture, the climate yields happy, productive individuals.
Impartiality: Stakeholder security and acceptance by the leader are crucial to a successful learning community. It is my belief that educators and learners are most comfortable when they recognize that equitable treatment (established through school norms and expectations) and unbiased distribution of resources, such as attention, time, and affection, are major components in the learning community. As a middle school student, I knew that my teachers were not excited about my presence in the classroom. I must confess, however, that I was not a “joy to teach,” but I did not desire to be a marginalized student in the classroom. These memories push me to look beyond the occasional attitude or unwillingness to work from learners to see the real child that needs the same love and attention as any other. Consequently, I frequently share my story with educators so that a child will not be intentionally or unintentionally marginalized. Relationships are a vital component to quality teaching and learner success. Equitable treatment contributes to a responsive, nurturing teacher-student relationship that inspires success.
Authenticity: Lastly and equally important, it’s essential for my colleagues to share my genuine passion for learner success, as well as each individual educator’s success in the classroom. My desire for their success must be revealed through my actions and decisions. As the campus leader, it’s essential that I make myself available to support all stakeholders to reach their maximum potential. I earnestly believe that all learners can be successful if they are given the appropriate tools to demonstrate their capabilities. Similarly, I believe that all educators have a desire to help students achieve their level of success. As the instructional leader, it’s my responsibility to be honest and transparent. This authenticity leads to a meaningful trust to support the diverse array of educator styles and contribute to a more learner-centered campus.
The empty space of this post stared back at me for a while as I thought about why I lead in secondary schools. I understand why I want to lead, but why I actually lead presented a different mindset and an opportunity for deeper reflection.
Why I want to lead: Born into a family of teachers and administrators, I was doomed from the start…as with each passing day of my childhood, it was further etched on my heart to take a similar pathway. However, I was not the traditional “I want to be a teacher” kind of kid; I was that “other” kind of kid. For example, I loved going to school, but only for the non-instructional, non-classroom-related experiences. Academically, I survived the old industrial model of education, but I did not take advantage of the learning opportunities that my teachers provided. To be honest, I do not believe my teachers were equipped to reach all students nor do I believe that our classrooms were structured to engage all students…instead, the system was catered to reach and engage those that fit within the one-size-fits-all model. Instead of engaging in learning, I preferred to make my classmates laugh and watch my teachers struggle to contain us (I promise…the story gets better).
My teachers and administrators did not really respond well to my school-life interactions. I genuinely believe my educators wanted a different result, but it always appeared that they did not know how to achieve it…and how to achieve it for every student. I knew I wanted something different for my future classroom (and even my future role in leadership).
Why I lead: It’s one thing to want to do something, it’s another thing to actually act on the desire. Yesterday (08/09/13) was one of the most memorable days of my adult life. I officially finished graduate school and celebrated with my family and friends afterwards.
Instead of the traditional restaurant celebration, we went to a cool hotel lounge to have a social mixer. My family and friends took time to do a toast and remind me of my journey as a son…a brother…a friend…a person…an educator.
Their words permeated my soul and provided further revelation as to why I lead in secondary schools:
I lead because I love building connections with individuals. I love people.
I lead to serve others and be a servant leader.
I lead to challenge the status quo. I push to be “different” — but effectively and efficiently.
I lead to be an example for others. I strive to be the change that I want to see.
I lead because I have a story and a purpose to share.
I lead because I believe in authenticity. It strengths relationships and builds credibility with those around me.
I lead because everyone has a talent (and potential). I want to ensure it’s discoverable and engaged.
I lead to learn from others. I love to tap into others’ knowledge and experiences.
I lead to inspire others and be inspired by their story as well.
I lead because I love my profession and I desire to continuously evolve professionally.
I lead to build leadership capacity in others. There is strength in numbers.
I lead to pay it forward. My mentors are invaluable and I want to share lessons learned.