Think about your cell phone. How has the cell phone changed over time? I am old enough to remember the first cell phones. They were big and bulky and came with a carrying case. It was basically a house wireless phone in a bag. I also remember beepers. As a matter of fact, when I began working in my first career field, they issued all employees beepers. It was a small device that allowed people to send a phone number that you were supposed to call back.
Technology is constantly changing and the change gets increasingly more rapid each year. The rapid change of technology is a reminder to educators that we must continue to grow. Unfortunately, we can’t continue doing school the way we’ve always done school. Because the world around us is rapidly changing, our teaching strategies need to change as well.
I spoke about change a few blogs ago, but this post is more about growth. Because things are rapidly changing, we must take on a growth mindset. A growth mindset means we avail ourselves to growth. We take on the mindset that we need to continue to learn more, so that we can provide a better education for our students.
For instance, growth right now in education seems to be grounded in brain research. Why is brain research important to educators? Brain research gives us insight into how the brain learns. What is the cornerstone of education? Learning. I’m not suggesting we become neuroscientists, but I do believe better understanding how the brain works can give us insight in effective learning strategies to use to help all of our students achieve academic success.
Education is becoming increasingly challenging. It’s becoming more and more challenging because expectations are rising. Many times those expectations put on us can cause a feeling of hopelessness, but as we take on the growth mindset and challenge ourselves to learn more, I think we’ll more easily meet those expectations.
Doctors must take what is called the Hippocratic Oath before beginning to practice their craft. Doctors have life or death in their hands, so it makes sense they should have principles to guide their actions. Just as doctors hold life or death in their hands, so do educators. When making decisions, I often thing "do the kids no harm". With this in mind, I took the liberty to change the Hippocratic oath to fit educators. May you allow this pledge to guide your educational practices.
The Educator's Oath
I will respect the innovative gains of those educators in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
I will apply, for the benefit of the student, all best practice measures that are required, avoiding those twin traps of one-size fits all classroom instruction and expecting every student to only learn one way.
I will remember that there is art to teaching as well as assessment, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the standardized measures imposed by state and federal government.
I will not be ashamed to say "I know not”, nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a student’s academic progress.
I will respect the privacy of my students, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death as it relates to their education. It is given me to save a life through education, and may I never forget that higher calling.
I will remember that I do not teach autism or the learning disabled, but perhaps a struggling child, whose struggles may affect the student's educational learning. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the student.
I will prevent academic low performance whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the struggling.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of teaching and positively effecting the lives of those with whom I am entrusted.
One of the biggest challenges for people is CHANGE. We are, for the most part, creatures of habit. There is a certain level of comfort in doing the same thing the same way over and over again. Unfortunately, no matter how much change makes us uncomfortable, change is inevitable.
In life, but most certainly in educational leadership, the first thing to do is understand that change will happen. As an elementary student, I remember sitting in straight rows. Our classrooms were assigned based on ability. One classroom had the above average students. Another classroom had all of the average students. Yet another classroom had all of the students considered to be below grade level. We were not taught to “think”. We were taught to memorize all material in order to regurgitate it back for the teacher on a test. We were expected to sit in our seats, stay quiet, and pay attention to the teacher who was teaching us lecture style.
Honestly answering the questions below will place you on a path to make transformative changes in education. Remember, effective leaders are visionaries. Identify where education is going and start taking your staff there now… for the sake of your students.
Do classrooms in your school or district look mine did 35 years ago?
Do we teach students to critically think and not just memorize material?
Do we engage students to increase the likelihood that they will retain the information?
John Maxwell’s The Law of Sacrifice states that leaders must make sacrifices for the good of the organization. Maxwell says that as a leader increases in levels, so does the level of sacrifice. If you are a principal, think about what sacrifices you made as Assistant Principal and then compare them to the sacrifices you are making as Principal. In most cases, more sacrifices were being made as Principal as compared to those as Assistant Principal. It’s the Law of Sacrifice… you must sacrifice more as your leadership level moves up.
Maxwell also talked about “destination disease”. The term may sound unfamiliar to you, but you know it very well. It’s the mindset that you’ve “arrived” in a certain area and therefore stop making sacrifices. Unfortunately, when you stop making sacrifices and stop growing as a leader, your organization becomes stagnate. We’ve all seen this before. It may be the veteran principal who thinks they have been doing this long enough that they are great at everything and there is no need for professional development or even personal development. Or it may be the principal at the campus that has received many recognitions for having high state test scores. They feel there is no need to continue to grow as educators because they are looked at as being the best school in the district or in the area.
Taken from John Maxwell, I have three questions for you to ponder:
Paula Patterson is a former principal who shares practical points on the principalship.