I spent the day learning from Diane Sweeney alongside our very smart group of instructional coaches. Near the end of our session, she challenged everyone to develop 5 belief statements about coaching and then find some way to make these transparent. We could share through a letter to our colleagues, we could share verbally with our administrative teams, or we could keep them as a guide for ourselves to stay on track throughout the year. I have been asked to develop belief statements on different occasions, usually through graduate work, and I have to admit…unless I need it for a resume, I have just turned the page after writing them and moved on.
I think this year I will do something different.
I try very hard not to be one of those leaders who tunes out when I am supervising PD sessions. Actually, just saying “supervising PD sessions” makes me cringe. I prefer to participate in the learning if I can so that I can learn along with my colleagues. Sometimes life happens (or a crisis occurs) and I cannot stay engaged like I want. I am always working on getting better at tuning out distractions (darn that smart phone). And yes, sometimes I’m downright non-compliant and choose to not participate (I’m not proud of that–it’s just reality). Therefore, when Diane asked us to write these belief statements, I started reexamining my own beliefs on coaching…which then led me to the realization that a leader is very much a coach. My belief statements about coaching are actually my beliefs as a leader.
When Diane said we needed to find a way to make these beliefs transparent, I decided to start a new blog post and put them out for all to read. It terrifies me to say the least to put these out for anyone to judge, but I guess I would ask that you not judge my beliefs, but yet use them as inspiration to start examining your own. Here goes:
1. Our conversations in schools (and in our offices) should revolve around doing what is in the best interest of our students. This often means removing self from the equation when making a tough choice, but if the focus is on kids when making a decision, I will at least be doing something right.
2. You live and die by the relationships you have with your colleagues. I have to admit that I struggle with this one on occasion. I love the people I work with, but sometimes I let work get in the way of simple relationship-building time. (For example, I don’t eat lunch with my colleagues very often because I am working. I would rather get things done at work so I don’t have to take it home.) Our office lost a great secretary last year when she passed away suddenly. She was always getting on our cases to take lunch for ourselves and not talk about work and to not work while we were eating. I think this year I will try to heed to her advice a little bit more.
3. Sometimes it is okay to leave work on your desk and go home. It will be there tomorrow. Family time is sacred and we don’t have enough of it–take advantage of the precious minutes you have when you can get it.
4. You gain credibility when you practice what you preach. Building and District leaders don’t typically have classrooms full of students to teach. However, they do have faculty professional development sessions to lead. It is important to use this time to model what you expect from your teachers in the classroom.
5. Communication. Communication. Communication. So much of the conflict that I encounter in various situations starts with a miscommunication. Communicating efficiently and effectively isn’t an easy task to accomplish, especially the larger the system you lead. However, I have learned the hard way that if I am proactive with my communication instead of reactive, my stress level is much smaller. I referenced this phenomena in another blog post as playing offense rather than defense.
So now what? I guess now that these are published for all to see, perhaps I’ll be held accountable a bit more to stay true to my beliefs. It is not easy to stay focused when your day could go completely haywire on a whim. However, I am excited for the year ahead and look forward to continued learning with my colleagues.Images: turn page by andy.brandon50 on Flickr Leadership Style-Participative by Donald Clark on Flickr