Just A Quick Thought About School Leadership

Jose Vilson Education, Jose

Rugrats, with Tommy taking the lead

Rugrats, with Tommy taking the lead

A few things come to mind when I’m asked about school leadership. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the school schemas I’ve already been a part of and I’ve witnessed in other schools. In all instances, the critical component wasn’t how much money the above department had allocated to the school’s funds (though that’s a part), it wasn’t how many people there were in the administrative party or how big the staff was as a whole. It wasn’t how aesthetically pleasing the school was, or whether the school grade was an A or an F, or how many “visitors” crawled the hallways of the establishment.

It isn’t how much some higher authority says your school is good just so they can publicize how well your school’s doing for their own benefit or so they can move a charter school right on the bottom floor without neither your principal or the parents of that school actually knowing. It’s not even about what the “data” shows. A part of me also wants to say, regardless of what people have observed about my current place of employ, that the efficacy of teacher professionalism doesn’t rank the highest in importance, even when that goes a long way in making sure that ships continue to sail with 3-4 different captains.

It’s about how the kids feel when they come to the school. Are they learning? Do they feel welcome, safe, and energetic about going to school? Too many of us throw out the words “student-centered” and “student-focused” but don’t actually implement that. I’m partially to blame for that as well. While I think students need discipline and structure, they also need buy-in and a voice in the system. The effective schools that I’ve heard of and seen at least feel like they have a vested interest in attending AND participating in everything from the minute they come in the school to the minute they step out the school, and extra kudos to those who leave after that last bell ring.

And a big part of me has also tried to wrap my head around the idea of power structures and how they affect our students. At the end of the day, whether principal, teacher, janitor, or paraprofessional, we have to move in unison for a vision that directly tells students, “We’re thinking about you.” Everything else trickles down the ladder, not up it …

Jose, who has to give Scott McLeod his props for starting the Leadership Day Movement, even if I’m a little late …