Across many of our school systems there is much talk about standards-based report cards, but very little understanding about the value of standards-based report cards and how they can be effectively developed and implemented in schools. Developing Standards-Based Report Cards, by Thomas Guskey and Jane Bailey, emphasizes the alignment of curriculum (standards), instruction and assessment (report cards) in a way that is constructive and meaningful to the everyday school lives of students.
One person does not effectively lead a complex organization in a changing world. Rather, leadership is distributed across an organization in a range of ways. In Distributed Leadership in Practice, editors James Spillane and John Diamond examine and clarify the distributed leadership perspective by presenting selected case study articles that demonstrate how leadership is effectively stretched across schools through established routines, systems of practice, tools and individuals in a variety of roles.
“The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.” - Leo Tolstoy
What is the role of education in serving humanity? While the answer to this question in terms of current public policy perspective is typically unstated, clues are found all around us: Competition in the global economy. A generation better prepared for the demands of the workplace. Higher paying jobs. Students prepared for successful futures. The USA should remain ‘on top’.
As an educational leader, how well prepared are you to engage in uncomfortable conversations in ways that are constructive, respectful and take into account the perspectives of others? School leaders are often put in the position of discussing issues or concerns that are hard to talk about, but rarely are they given strategies that they can actually use to navigate such conversations adeptly.
All of us have our own personality styles and mental lenses that we gravitate to. Although it may not come naturally, effective leaders must nurture within themselves the ability to examine situations and challenges from a range of perspectives – especially from the perspectives that don’t ‘come naturally’ to them. Free your mind and increase your problem solving ability (and thus your ability to lead) by reading Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership by Lee Bolman and Terrance Deal.
An esteemed colleague of mine often said, “Communities get the schools they deserve” (perhaps an indirect reference to the 1985 book by Diane Ravtich). In Turnaround Leadership, author Michael Fullan emphasizes the importance of the community in the context of school improvement, and offers a constructive approach to leveraging community support for schools.
Don’t ever underestimate the importance of the role of education in our world! That is one of the big things I ‘took away’ from this text. While knowledge gives power, the methods by which school systems educate sometimes squelch the very creativity and divergent thinking that schools profess to encourage.
As an educational leader ethics are intertwined with all that you do, so why not take some time to reflect on ethics as related to your professional responsibilities? Busy school administrators should take time to read Ethical Leadership, by Robert Starratt, every few years as a way to ground and refocus their thoughts and feelings regarding ethics.