Friday, January 10, 2014

Deliberately Excellent

I’ve been reflecting on how schools make an incredible, yet often invisible, difference in each of our communities.  In our crazy world, differences between cultures, persuasions and beliefs seem to surface more quickly than they ought to.  The natural tendency becomes for much of society to make obscure and overlook the significant ways that we are alike, especially as adults "grow up" and move further away from the magic of school.

It is in our school years, especially elementary, where critical lessons of respect and civility are continued from the home, and in many cases, first taught. School lessons required us to learn to share, and to demonstrate courtesy in our relationships.  It is in our schools that teachers instill in our hearts a desire to empathize with those who are in trouble or in pain.  It is where we learn some painful lessons that there is nothing so unfair as equal treatment, and there is nothing fair about unequal treatment (it makes sense if you don’t think about it).

“Throughout the march of history, society has made progress when people have lived together in communities, with respect and concern for one another.  These virtues are the hallmark of civilization” (Hinckley, 2001).  I believe schools, as partners with parents/families, are the center of hallmark communities.  Many individuals, thought not enough, have learned to recognize that service within our communities is done by ordinary people who have learned to work in an extraordinary way. It is done by those who apply wisdom from lessons learned.  This gives hope to me, as brilliance is not required to make a difference in this world.  All that is required is a willingness to reach out, make a connection, serve and lead others where they may not have gone without your influence.

Education Leaders generally and humbly consider themselves ordinary people, but are indeed extraordinary as they understand that the learning process is endless. We read, observe, assimilate, and ponder that which we expose our mind to.  We encourage, promote, expect and even insist on the ideals that expectations coupled with success will improve the quality of life and growth mindset for child and adult learners around us.  We have experienced, first-hand, the invigoration that comes from having developed the capacity to evaluate then solve a problem, to wrestle with a seemingly unconquerable challenge and then find a solution (these are often called “Mondays”).

As education leaders and members within our neighborhoods, communities, districts and state, we all have a vision of what we are working toward.  Individually, many of us have personal creed that mirror our professional life.  A term that that I heard recently was "deliberate excellence."  Regardless, or maybe because of our many and varied roles, may we focus upon being deliberately excellent in being a learning leader.