I blog on Brain-Based Learning, Metacognition, EdTech, and Social-Emotional Learning. I am the author of the Crush School Series of Books, which help students understand how their brains process information and learn. I also wrote The Power of Three: How to Simplify Your Life to Amplify Your Personal and Professional Success, but be warned that it's meant for adults who want to thrive and are comfortable with four letter words.

Lead By Example Dear Administrator

By Oskar Cymerman | @focus2achieve | BAM! Radio Network & Teaching Channel Blogger

Lead By Example

Dear Administrator,

Do you talk the talk?

Do you say beautiful things such as Relationships First, Personalized Learning, Igniting The Passion, and Teaching The Whole Child?

Those are great things. We need more of them in school and in education.

Do you then walk the walk?

Do You Lead By Example?

The superintendent of the district I teach in spoke about such things during his annual address this year. I like the guy. He seems nice. It feels as though he cares. But, I am not sure he understands…

Let me explain.

The initiatives he, his team, and the school board are putting in place sound great. I am always energized after hearing him speak. And then we all go back to our respective buildings and maybe spend a couple hours discussing and brainstorming the mission and the vision and what students need from us to make these things happen.

And then we spend most of the next day going over standards, “unpacking” benchmarks, and discussing writing the essential questions. Doing it will have to happen on our own...

And, most of the rest of the workshop week is spent in meetings. Teachers might go out with other members of their departments. Intermingling is a foreign idea I think. I've never seen an administrator go out to lunch with his or her staff. We used to have a boat trip at the end of the year. See ya in two and a half months!

How about we plan for having time to meet with colleagues during the school year? I’m not talking PLCs (formal) or lunch (scarf food down, crack a joke, back to the grind). I’m talking intentionally setting up several regular school days, and times during school days, for staff to build community. And yes, I am talking about doing this on the district’s dime. Crazy right?

You know what else is crazy? Stress. So how about we build a healthy collaborative school community? How about we do it consciously and deliberately, because we understand that we are all human beings who have social and emotional needs?

How about a genius hour for teachers? How about we have a chance to talk to people across the disciplines? Apply their ideas to our area and vice versa? Pursue passion projects. No time? Make time!

A colleague of mine said to me yesterday that it’d be nice to have a 2-hour social for our school staff right at the beginning of the workshop week. That’s an awesome idea! Think about it. Everyone gets the chance to catch up. New teachers get to mingle and meet their colleagues. Administrators get the opportunity to show support for the teachers, have conversations with them, get to know them better. And, everyone eases into the new school year while building and strengthening the school community. Another crazy idea right?

So crazy in fact, that it has to happen outside of the school hours where life happens and many cannot attend.

Look, I’m a teacher and if there’s one thing I know about teacher’s it’s this: We are one resilient bunch. We are used to being given an insane amount of things to do. Promptly, we add many other projects to the list to make our instruction and student learning experience better. We devote time at home to improve our craft or to catch up on the impossible.

This is the current paradigm. We are told to build relationships with students, but have little time to build true relationships with each other. They are mostly superficial. Same with the administration. Observing and giving feedback just ain’t about that.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way…

We build relationships with our students, because we spend a lot of time with them. It’s mostly formal, but there are times we take the time to see each other. We are encouraged by more progressive administrators to spend the first week “building the relationship.” But they themselves often fail to even lay a foundation for meaningful relationships with their staff.

Dear Administrator,

Don’t get me wrong. The focus should always be on the kids. All I’m saying is that it makes sense to show teachers how it’s done. Set the tone. Walk the walk. Lead By Example.

Because We All Have The Power To Change The World. Use It Often.

"Crush School" Book by Oskar Cymerman - $9.99 on Amazon

"Crush School" Book by Oskar Cymerman - $9.99 on Amazon

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