Sunday, December 05, 2010

On great educators and great leaders

Education reform is a difficult journey. It takes a great team of effective captains and navigators to get us to our final destination (we don't get there overnight!). The very idea of having a new mayor, a new chancellor, and a new union leader is progressive. It's a good one; with their installation and oath taking is the acknowledgement that change is on the way. The year is about to end, we're turning a new hope, new beginning. And with it comes the question of: where are we going now? Is this ship still heading to the right direction? Would the decisions of the ship captains and the navigators be best for everyone? These are the same questions we asked their predecessors who were once sitting in their same office.

At this point, teachers who are dedicated to teaching our kids what they should know and be able to do in life are tired of being promised the 21st century resources for our 21st century learners, administrative supports, and differentiatiated professional development training that we need to be successful at what we do...until now these things remain promises for most students and teachers. We need effective leaders and policy makers who meaningfully understand the teaching and learning standards and process; to evaluate what is working and not working in our schools; to reflect on and analyze the data; to set new  protocols, guidelines, and procedures based on the needs of our students, our teachers and our district profile; and to implement the new ideas generated that are deemed effective based on the said process.

One important quality that I can ascribe to a good educator is resiliency. Sometimes doing the same thing repeatedly when it hasn’t worked after a few trials is indeed just foolish. As classroom teachers we are oftentimes required to implement mandates and policies that affect our day to day work with our students with little or no input into the process. But we still survive and thrive with our students because of our innate skills of being able to work effectively in the worst working conditions.

Great teachers are able to adapt effectively to abrupt change. They are able to think outside-the-box instantly then strategically analyze and create innovative solutions that are far better than the old traditional ways. They believe in the power of good relationships and they know that collaboration is a win-win situation. They team up with educators across the nation who has seen things work in their classrooms and respective school districts to explore understandings so they can use it in familiar situations. Wisdom comes in learning from what worked and didn't work in the attribute of a great educator...and a great leader.

Flexibility is a virtue, collaborating is a skill, wisdom is a gift; not all leaders have them. We are still in search of those leaders who can truly lead our schools and be the role model for our students and teachers.

With all due respect to our new leaders - Mayor Gray, DCPS Chancellor Henderson, and WTU President Saunders: Congratulations on your new positions and please know that we are counting on you. Things will not always be perfectly right for all of us, but rest assured that you can also count on our great teacher leaders when things get rough. All eyes are on you now!

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