Why?

Motivational Speaker, Simon Sinek, has built a career on guiding organizations and organizational leaders on finding their purpose or “why”. Sinek argues that organizations that can articulate why they do things over what they do or how they do it are far more successful and that they are more appealing to their consumers. While his focus in on corporate structures or businesses, the same principles can apply in education as well.

Many teachers have a very clear understanding of why they are teachers. One might say that they want to make a difference in a child’s life. Some might speak to their content area and to pass along an area of expertise or passion. In my opinion, both of those areas speak to building relationships with students. And, schools or districts can offer why they offer certain programs over another or provide special services like free lunch depending on their demographics.

However, on a smaller scale, when teachers move into leadership roles, the why might feel a bit more difficult to discern. I doubt anyone signed up for administrative roles for losing their summers off and a little bit of a raise. In addition, being a school leader can also a bit disconnected from the students we serve at times, but a school can only be as successful as its leadership team. As with every aspect of an organization, leaders must also articulate their “why” to all of their constituents–faculty, students, and families.

Here are a few of my whys for transitioning and continuing to serve in leadership roles within schools:
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Educational Leadership Philosophy

comfort

Growing up, I moved constantly. In one school year, I attended as many as four schools with my longest stint at a single school being my last three years of high school. As a result, I rarely developed solid peer relationships, and my sense of belonging was stifled. My only constant was the teachers who helped me acclimate in each of the schools I attended. Teachers were my rock. They pushed me academically, lifting me up when I had fallen behind because of curricular differences between schools. They provided me with a safe space and personal connections when I felt alone and different. These relationships that were modeled for me were the cornerstone of my educational career. From classroom teacher to school leader, I have found that my leadership philosophy is rooted in building and fostering relationships, leveraging the strengths of my students and faculty, and seeking opportunities for growth in myself and others.

Several years ago, I took the StrengthFinders 2.0 assessment in preparation for a leadership workshop and repeated it a couple of years later as a part of a team building exercise. While a few themes slightly shifted as I grew as a leader, one area, “relationship building,” was a consistent strength. I see this as the key component in every personal and professional success. While this is a natural strength for me, I believe it is also a necessary skill for effective leadership in education. After all, education is all about relationships and connection.

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