Saturday, June 4, 2011

Beliefs...

 flickr photo via shanzy 294

When I was in graduate school one of my assignments was to reflect on and create a set of beliefs about education and leadership. I posted a couple of these a while back. My intent was to roll one out every week or so until I had written about each one of them at KARE Givers. I wanted to compare what I thought of as my personal beliefs back then, to how they may have changed since then. My intentions were good, but other things came up and I didn't follow through.

I came across the list the other day and decided to revisit sharing my beliefs about teaching and learning. As I read through it once again, I realized that my beliefs haven't changed much at all since I wrote them down over the two year period I was in graduate school. I took the reflective assignment very seriously, and I maintain my perspective that teachers must be serious about what they believe.
Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny. -Mahatma Gandhi
In order for teachers to be sincere and purposeful about what they do, they must be grounded in a set of philosophical principles that guide their practice... their practice being the words, actions, habits and values that they choose to articulate every day in the classroom. To this end, I'm including my complete list here in this post. I will follow up over the next while to expand on each one of my beliefs about education and leadership with the intent to elicit conversations that challenge them. I think teachers need to challenge their beliefs perpetually if they are to continue seeking better ways to do what they do.
Sean Grainger – Beliefs about Education and Leadership
  •  I believe that the public education system is the avenue by which the principles of democracy are best exemplified.
  • I believe that there are no emergencies in education; in nearly every challenge we need only to realize that the past can show us the way to the future.
  • I believe that effective education is about people, always. We must reach people on personal levels to foster relevance in what they learn.
  • I believe that we never stop learning, despite ourselves. Those who embrace the joy of learning, embrace the joy of life.  
  • I believe in collaboration. Effective leaders work among their people, not above them.  
    • I believe in the pursuit of excellence; we can ask for nothing more than the individual’s greatest effort.  
    •  I believe that sincerity is paramount to nurturing trust and commitment in people, and critical to effective communication.
    • I believe that education is progression; the welcoming of change, the evolution of ideas. The need to be immersed in this movement is characteristic of the life long learner.
    • I believe that teaching is the noblest of endeavors. Teachers are professionals who deserve the support of the society they serve.
    • I believe it is the duty of educators to think critically, to be analytical when pondering their role and responsibility as instructors of thought.
    • I believe that it is through self-deception that we experience interpersonal strife. Being true to ourselves as educators, looking to ourselves first as the potential catalyst for negativity is vital.
    • I believe that creativity, curiosity, innovation, and imagination are the benchmarks of vision and problem solving.
    • I believe that honesty is the foundation of all human interdependence. Integrity, trust, and character are the cornerstones of positive action. 
    • I believe that minds need to be open. Flexibility, adaptability, tolerance; these are the instruments of collaboration and cooperation.
    • I believe that self-esteem grows intrinsically through the pursuit of excellence and in servitude to others.
    • I believe that dwelling on the problem is detrimental to finding the solution. Focusing on strengths, what is right about a person or situation more often than not leads to improvement.
    • I believe in professional development that allows educators the latitude to redefine themselves, perpetually. It is the recognition of what we don’t know that makes us truly intelligent. 
    • I believe that intelligence is an often overlooked leadership trait. A thoughtful, reflective, logical, and intellectual leader searches for knowledge and understanding as an exemplar for the school community.
    • I believe that all children have the right to learn in the most inclusive and least restrictive environment possible. 
    • I believe that everyone is ultimately responsible for their own actions, feelings, and words. 
    • I believe an educational leader as a coach is one who stands in front of the team when criticism requires deflecting, and in back when praise is forthcoming.  
    • I believe a positive school culture is built through a serious commitment to teaching emotional, social, and moral skills. 
      • I believe an educational leader is an individual that leads through effective management, and manages through effective leadership. Stephen Covey said, “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”
      • I believe that every path of discovery needs to be grounded in the hope that something good and useful can be gained from the effort. 
      • I believe that perspective and philosophy are undeniably intertwined. My philosophy is the lens I look through every day as a person, a teacher, and a scholar. 
      • I believe that goals are righteous ends to means, but enjoying the journey in pursuit of the goal leads to exponentially greater amounts of knowledge, insight, and contentment once the destination is reached. 
      • I believe that it takes only one person to reflect the inspiration embedded deep in the souls of everyone that is necessary to enlighten and to motivate us in seeking our destiny, and that person is often a teacher.
        I am very fond of this quote, and I include it here to help frame the kind of perspective that forms the basis of all my beliefs... 
        “An understanding heart is everything in a teacher, and cannot be esteemed highly enough. One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”  - Carl Jung
        So these are my beliefs. I'm hoping to hear some of yours. 
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