Monday, June 30, 2014

Who Am I As A Leader?

I am a leader who wants to see things change. Many times the eagerness for change can over take wise decision making.  Over the years, I have learned to experiment with new ideas and programs before sharing them with my colleagues.  I can tend to be one that jumps on the band wagon without looking at all of the criteria, needs, and wants just because the idea or program looks great.

I've been in education long enough to see many ideas, concepts, and programs come, go and then come back again.  Unfortunately, it does not always help us to be better educators.  When making decisions, I try to think about what is best for my students, what is best for teachers, and what is best for the community.  The needs of my students come first and foremost.  I need to figure out what they need to be successful in careers or college.  I then need to think about what teachers will need to help students become college and career ready. Lastly, I need to think about what the community needs from the school. 
The most important thing I can do as a leader is help to institute positive change.  Change can be easy for some and very difficult for others. As a leader in my school, it is my job to help those that struggle with change through the change. For example, our principal of approximately 20 years left to become a superintendent about 5 years ago.  The change was difficult for many of us.  We knew what to expect from the old principal and there where so many uncertainties with the new one. I was one who was very resistant to the change.  It wasn't until I realized that others looked up to me as a leader that I knew I had to change for our students, staff, and school.  I took small steps in learning about this new leader; who he was and how he functioned.  It is because of these small steps that the change has gone from a negative experience to a positive one.

On a whole school level, I accomplish instituting positive change with small committees or groups of teachers that represent the whole school. At our school, we have a committee called SILT: School Improvement Leadership Team.  This group consists of one teacher from each grade level, a special educator, a “specialist,” a teacher trained in Professional Learning Communities, and the principal. Long term and short term goals are created based on the needs of the teachers and students.  Ideas are presented to help meet those goals, discussed, changed if needed, implemented, and evaluated after a designated period of time.  Any changes that need to be made are addressed at the time of evaluation.  We are constantly reevaluating programs and ideas to get what we need for students and teachers.
Instituting positive change in my classroom can be more difficult since I’m the only music teacher in the school. I’m always searching the internet for new ideas and best practices for my subject area. Many times I will experiment with a small group before sharing with others. Along the way I tweak things to make them work for me. For example, I have always struggled with ways for students to keep track of their practice times.  I stumbled across Lesson Logs which is a free online tool that helps students track their assignments, practice times, ask me questions, and leave comments. I created an account for myself and experimented with it over the summer to see how it worked and if I could use this in the fall.  After a summer of experimentation, I implemented the change with my Band Students. I checked in with them and their parents every month to see how things were going on Lesson Logs. Everyone really enjoyed using it and I plan on continuing to use it this fall.

As a leader in my school, I have seen my colleagues become stagnant and unwilling to try new things. It is my hope that with my enthusiasm, attitude, and skills I can bring about positive change that will help students and teachers.