I have recently applied to be a Phi Delta Kappa Emerging Leader. I'm not sure if I'm qualified to not, but it was a good process for me to organize my resume, reflection on my work, and put some of my philosophy on paper.
One of the greatest roles of a school leader is to build a culture of risk-taking and innovation. During my early years as a leader, this was about bringing fresh ideas to the table, but as my appetite for greater innovation grew and I saw the power of unleashing new ideas into the system, it became apparent that my role needed to become someone who fostered a climate of innovation that empowered staff, parents, and students to step forward with ideas. My default answer to ideas became “yes”, and the fruits of this shift are now settling deeper into the core of the school. The mission and norms of the school are now dominated with innovation and risk-taking for kids.
This has led me to serve on a number of work groups that are based on innovating schools including our sustainability learning group, a group that is primed to win a Green Ribbon School award for our extensive work in urban sustainability; the technology integration think tank, a group that is truly harnessing the power of the disruptive nature of technology through the use of video creation, electronic portfolios, and technology-based projects with an authentic audience; and finally, the steering committee for edcampSTL, a professional learning conference that brings the energy of educators to the forefront for an interconnected day of learning.
In addition to these incredible opportunities at school, I have also worked hard to open wide the doors of the school so as to share the trapped wisdom of the learners in this school. Our interconnected world allows us to learn from the best educational thinkers on the planet, and I have challenged my teachers to grow their professional learning networks to allow this to occur. Through the use of Twitter, my blog, Principally Speaking, and Skype conversations with educators throughout the country, I too, have moved from a local educator to a global educator that enters into conversations with dedicated professionals throughout the planet.
It has been an incredible journey for me personally to my current role. I am a first generation college graduate with incredible parents that hid the effects of poverty from me at every turn, so that I could focus on school and learning. They provided me opportunities to play sports and get involved in high school, quietly cultivating my leadership skills from the beginning. I don’t want to waste a second of this opportunity that they provided me, and so this is why school leadership has been at the heart of my work to serve kids for the last 13 years. Serving in this role has allowed me to empower teachers, students, and families to think beyond what is possible.
The schools that I have served have a common thread. They are on a road of sustainable growth. This may not mean flashy one-year gains in test scores, but it means growth over time in academics, teacher growth and innovation, and a community of ideas surrounding all of our kids.