Great School Leaders Look Beyond
Today, if a school leader doesn’t look beyond, the result can be a lack of motivation, loss of morale, and failure to succeed for students, as well as educators, and community. Leaders making decisions that affect students and educators about curriculum, education tools, technology solutions, and more, need to be looking around at the possibilities occurring in other schools and districts for ideas that can help guide new paths and directions. Without knowing what’s really happening beyond a district’s classrooms and schools, and in other districts in a state/province, as well as nationally, a school community cannot grow to its potential, and may remain stagnant—and therefore will not be inspired to do more, or become better with change.
That inside-only view is a problem easier seen from the outside—looking in. It is similar to standing too close to the old chalkboard. Standing too close, you don’t see things needing to be changed. Many times, parents at school board meetings are the first to raise questions, note problems, or make suggestions. While that sometimes instigates efforts to do more, the results are often considered more defensive reactions than best planning practices. Again, all may appear fine from the classroom, where teachers stand and students sit, but something unseen and unheard can be missing, and most likely is, without knowing more of what’s happening elsewhere. If all you see and hear is what you know, then you don’t have enough information. And information, today, is so easy to obtain, as is the help in translating that information for specific education needs and purpose.
It is important to see, get, and understand far-reaching, and innovative ideas and practices. Discovering what other districts, schools, and classrooms are doing, and using, in the way of education solutions and tools, is a start. Looking beyond local, and just what you know, is important, too, because districts nearby may be doing the same or very similar things, and possibly haven’t looked beyond the horizon, either. That birds-of-a-feather thinking is dated, and today, there are more reasons to explore what education leaders are thinking, and educators are doing in far-reaching areas of a state, country, as well as the world.
That’s not to say what others do elsewhere is right, or can be modified to fit, but looking expands a district leader’s reach, as well as opens up new ideas—never thought before. Education that inspires isn’t cookie cutter, and leaders, who understand that, and have the creative ability to see that, can write success stories. Great leaders have broad vision, and can help turn vision into reality. School leaders cannot get stranded on education islands. It may just take a bit of looking outside district boundaries to experience what works, learn from those looks, and then build upon, modify, re-purpose, or re-create—with help—a plan and action for success that is the best fit.
About the Author:
Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience, as well as a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is a Promethean storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.