As I prepare for the new school year, we have been challenged to consider the vision for our school or department or district (however that fits for you. . . ). If I was still at my school, I would say, "That is easy!" My vision for my school was to insure every single child had access to an equitable education that was meaningful to him or her. Last year, I started to see glimmers of that here and there. Teachers started to see how meeting a child where his/her strengths were made a difference and they could see how doing so could contribute to success for each child. It was exciting to watch teachers introduce Word Q in the lab and see the writing of all students "take off." Teachers were excited to share the work of "Joe" who never writes and show me the whole page of writing with "voice and everything." I really wanted to say, "See!" but I didn't. I was just as excited and giddy to read the voice of a little one who previously was silent.
Well, fast forward to this week - my last week before I start my new position of Supervisor of Inclusive Learning. I will not be in one particular school this year, but working with about twenty schools to create the same exciting and equitable atmosphere for each and every one of their students. While that may be my vision for each school in Edmonton Public, I know I can't walk in and say, "It is done because I am telling you how." I have to go back to some reading I did as a young leader.
One of the first books shared with me by a wise administrator was the work of Sergiovanni. I can't remember the name of the specific book and I have long since shared it with another person seeking to learn about servant leadership. But I was intrigued with the idea of servant leadership. The idea of servant leadership promotes the serving of others through serving the values and ideas of the organization This is the framework I have built my leadership on and it will be in this framework that I will continue my vision for inclusion in the district.
Our district vision is for all students will learn to their full potential and develop the ability, passion and imagination to pursue their dreams and contribute to their community. You can read more about the vision, mission and priorities on the link. Our district is committed to the success of each of out students and it is exciting to see the district as a whole move toward that reality.
Another great book shared with me as a first year principal was ``Change Leadership: A Practical Guide to Transformating Our Schools.`` This book offered many suggestions for working through change in a school that could be translated to a wider range. I know these books are only a few of the resources I have read in the past years that will help me in my journey. Of course, I know I will draw on the collective knowledge of my PLN on Twitter to learn everyday as well.
I expect I will draw on all my skills in building relationships in order to share my passion for inclusion. I expect I will experience some resistance because this is not an easy paradigm shift for all educators. BUT it is worthwhile work for the students in our schools. Each and every child deserves an equitable education and success. The research of Nel Noddings brought forward the discussion around Happiness and Education and whether or not this was possible. I believe it is if we, as educators, can wrap our heads around the needs and strengths of our students instead of focusing on our own need for control.
Finally, the work of Dufour and Dufour guided our work at my previous school as we focused on the four big questions:
1. What do we want our students to know
2. How will we know if they know it
3. What will we do if they don`t know it
4. What will we do if they already know it
If I can use my learning from the work we did as a professional learning community, I will have a great start as I work with other principals. Drawing from my success with my school, I can use examples of the wonderful work we did to show new ways of approaching students in other schools. Will the way be easy? I doubt it, but that is okay. Things that are worthwhile often require our effort and I am prepared to go the distance for our students.