Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Pledge to You...

I read a great post by Stephen P. Santilli a few weeks ago (and yes, it took me this long to formulate a post about it!) entitled, "Building Expertise: Living Up to the Name! I enjoy reading Stephen's posts; he is one of many I am constantly learning from. At the end of the post is a quote that he shared via Robert Marzano: "If you come and work here, we will help you get better."

I instantly fell in love with this statement. In my opinion, there is nothing more important as a leader than to make the people you work with better. Regardless of deadlines, paperwork, meetings or emails, finding ways to help your staff improve is your main job. This goes for teachers and coaches as well. We should never settle with people being okay with just being okay. We need to constantly have conversations that challenge each other. This is the best example of a growth mindset I can think of...

Do not get me wrong, I understand with that comes resistance. Most people are comfortable with their current situation. They are happy with the status quo. As leaders/teachers/coaches, we owe it to our staff and team to challenge the status quo. We must be willing to have the tough conversations. We must create an environment where these are not seen as challenges (or a number assigned in an evaluation) but as feedback to help a colleague improve.

As a lead learner in a new school one day, here is my pledge to my staff:

1. I will always "Walk the Talk".
If I am asking you to attend professional development sessions, I will do the same. If I am asking you to stay current on best teaching practices, I will do the same.

2. I will remember what it is like to be a teacher.
I will respect your time. I will keep in mind that before adding something else to your plate, I must work hard to see what can be removed. That only sounds fair to me.

3. I will work hard to "Support in public, but criticize in private."
No one wins in an environment where teachers are not supported by their administration. I will never create a situation where you will walk away thinking to yourself: "He just hung me out to dry..."

4. I will always maintain a growth-mindset. 
I believe we all have areas that we need to work on, and it is my job to find out what those areas are and help you improve in those areas.

5. I will work tirelessly to tell our school's story.
I will use all current social media outlets to get the word out to our community with all the great things my staff is doing. I want to share the great things going on in our building everyday because I believe a well-informed community has a better chance of being a more supportive one.

6. I will not be afraid to make mistakes. 
I believe living this way creates a sense of fear that stymies growth. Pushing ourselves is the only way we get better. With that, of course, so will our students.

7. I will work hard to create and maintain a professional environment.
You are a professional. You should be treated that way. Everyday. No excuses. But remember, so do our students...

8. I will not make decisions in a vacuum.
I will seek input and opinions on as many issues as possible. I want to hear different sides to things. I do not just want "yes" people. Now, I still may make a decision that you disagree with, but understand I valued your input in the conversation.

I think this is a good place to start. I may find myself adding to this list in the future. Many thanks to Stephen for sharing his post. I believe by following these 8 points, I will keep my pledge to create an environment where everyone is looking to constantly improve. I am excited about the possibility one day of being the lead learner in a school. When this happens, This is "My Pledge to You..."

Did I forget anything? Please feel free to comment...