Throughout the past year I have become interested in social media and using various tools to make connections with educators across the country and world. Twitter has been a "game changing" professional development tool for me, as I have been able to consume, create, and share a number of resources with unbelievable people within my Professional Learning Network. About eighteen months ago I heard a lot of buzz about Twitter as an educational tool, but refused to believe the hype because all I could think of when this was mentioned was Ashton Kutcher, Shaq, one million followers, and what these people had for dinner the night before. Only when I gave Twitter a chance along with some educational chats (most notably #iaedchat) did I find the true power and the ability to connect with so many great minds. Twitter has given me the ability to connect with my educational hero, Todd Whitaker: @toddwhitaker, and learn from some of the best in the business such as Jimmy Casas: @casas_jimmy, Ben Gilpin: @benjamingilpin, Joe Mazza: @Joe_Mazza, Eric Sheniger: @NMHS_Principal, and many others.
Most recently Twitter has also allowed me to participate in a virtual mentoring program (#SAVMP) created by George Courous: @gcouros. George has organized more than three hundred mentors and mentees across the world to connect through blogs, Twitter, Google Hangouts, and other social media tools in an attempt to collaborate and get better at our profession. I received an email from George last night outlining the plans for this program, and his recommendation to start a blog while creating a post about why I lead.
As a principal of two elementary schools, I get caught up in the day-to-day operations within our schools and sometimes forget about why I pursued an educational leadership position three years ago. I have pondered this question often and have come up with three main reasons of why I lead:
I lead to inspire and empower others. Whether I am working with teachers, students, paraprofessionals, or other staff members, it is always my goal to inspire and empower them to achieve more while producing their best work. Building capacity and empowering those around you is one of the most important jobs of the leader. We are in the people business, and it is truly about people and not programs.
I lead to continually improve. You are either getting better or getting worse, there is no such thing as staying the same. In order to be an effective principal, I must stay up to speed with current trends, strategies, and big ideas. This forces me to step outside of my comfort zone at times in order to try new things. I talk to our staff members about taking risks while stressing that it is ok to fail. If I say this to our staff, then I must model this behavior each day. "To be outstanding - get comfortable with being uncomfortable." Alrik Koudenburg
I lead to make a difference. Like every educator, I pursued this profession to work with kids and make differences in their lives. I was fortunate to have a very positive school experience and enjoyed almost every minute of it. I am motivated to do the same for all of the students that step through the doors of Epworth and Farley Elementary Schools. We owe it to our students to give them the best experience possible. Teaching matters every single day.
As educators we have an incredible opportunity to provide students with a world class education while making positive impacts in their lives. Together we can accomplish this daunting task. We owe it to everyone to give our absolute best.