I really didn't expect to begin a journal entry on leadership with a quote from Napoleon - but this one rings so true - a dealer in hope.
This is the time of year that many school districts are in desperate need of hope - budgets have all but disappeared, pink slips may be appearing and spring fever is spreading through the hallways. But it goes deeper than that - deeper than only a springtime need.
We need hope.
I have long believed that all teachers are dreamers with a faith in what is unseen. You have only to walk through the halls of a school to witness that belief. Rooms on either side of the hall are filled with teachers who believe that education changes lives, that learning is available for all and has the power to change. That is a belief in the unseen.
But, instead of being celebrated for that bedrock belief - teachers are too often blamed for that which they have no control. Teachers are seen as the problem - not the solution.
I clearly remember sitting in a budget meeting with a district employee who said, "if it wasn't for the teachers we would have so much more money in this district." I sat there trying to keep my mouth closed - and my hands from shaking!
If it wasn't for the teachers - there would not be a school.
I have thought about that comment so many times. The fact that an employee of a school district, someone who works with teachers and students, believes that teachers are the root of the problem makes me so very sad!
And that brings me back to leadership and hope.
I had the amazing privilege to work with one principal who demonstrated a deep belief in hope through his leadership. His philosophy was to empower his teachers.
That isn't the most comfortable for all staff. There are some who want a leader who tells them what to do and when and how - because if it fails they have someone to blame.
But, for those who had the courage to take a risk - this principal was willing to provide the support.
There is something amazing that happens when you work for a leader who believes in his staff
- you see possibilities all around you
in both your students
and other staff members.
It was this principal who opened the educational technology door for me. Without knowing a lick about technology he trusted me as I tried out this new technology thing. It was with his help that I applied for a NEA Leadership grant that provided laptops and ipods for my classroom. With those my students created 50 state podcasts as we studied our way across the United States.
It was also this principal who sat down beside me, after all the students and staff had left for the day, challenged me to change my attitude, and handed me a kleenex when the words hit very close to my heart.
Thank you, Mr. Marks, for your gift of leadership! You are missed!!
You gave me the gift of hope.
And when you see hope
all things are possible!