It is difficult sometimes to find the light in an otherwise dismal situation. It’s easy for each of us to continue to fuel our anger and frustration regarding what is happening within the Detroit Public School system right now. We can easily get sucked into hyper focusing, like it seems Lansing is doing, on the sickouts and how this singular action is causing Detroit students to lose out on classroom time, daily meals and a structured school day. We can, I can…and sometimes it feels good to have a direct focus for the disgust I feel for what has happened to public education in this state. It feels good until I remember that focusing on the sickouts, focusing on this symptom of the problem doesn’t change what is happening to our schools.
Late last week, I begun reaching out to the 8 school campuses that remained open during the largest Detroit teacher sickout, closing more than 85 of the 100 DPS schools district wide. Several of you have commented on my post from Thursday, asking for more information in regards to these campuses offering insight and asking your own questions. One comment in particular got my attention, the writer alleged that we have no idea that these school’s administration has anything to do with them remaining open. Fair statement, because I don’t know any of these educators personally…but I plan to change that; I will change that. I want to know what makes them different, how they have preserved through especially now that their feet are really to the fire.
Effective school leadership begins with campus leaders building a foundation of trust. Without this, any further attempts at building a campus community are…well pointless. The principal, (or head of the school) is the primary architect of this trust. They develop the plans, they layout the infrastructure they lay the first bricks of the foundation. The building of trust is a process, and career long process. Principals interested in building trust with their communities are invested in their staff personally, their development as a professional AND as a human being. They are all about face time, greating families as they arrive, in the hallways at passing time and check-ins with teachers.
Effective leaders are excellent at relationship repair. They are incredibly aware of their emotions and able to manage their emotional responses accordingly. These leaders are calm, grounded and able to effectively manage conflicts between teaching staff and students alike. And emotionally aware leader strives each day to truly listen to their community and react accordingly to their needs. Effective leaders are mindful.
Great school leadership is the foundation for which effective educational communities are built. Teachers need an environment where they feel safe and cared for just like students do. When we feel secure in our environment, our ability to give to others, to invest in others is insurmountable. When we trust the leaders IN our environment the possibilities are endless…we well go to the moon and back to help preserve that bond. As a greater community, we need to focus more on providing resources and encouraging educator growth in an individual level. There is something there in those 8 school campuses that we have been missing because we’re focused on symptoms of a greater problem.