This week I visited with school and district leaders striving to improve their culture and organizational alignment, their service to stakeholders, and their conversations about improving practice. They are committed to these improvements that will make school better for their students, make work better for their employees, and help parents feel more confident about where they send their children each day. What I most appreciated in my visits this week was the examples set by district leaders who lived Gandhi’s sage advice to “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The leaders I watched this week modeled dedication, humility, self-awareness, vulnerability, and an openness to transparent accountability . They provided a concrete example of the change they wish to see in their organizations, in ways like this:
- Reflecting openly about the gift of feedback, even when it didn’t feel like a delightful present
- Showing the importance of serving stakeholders in ways that make them say, “Wow!” by being present and learning alongside employees
- Agreeing to public accountability through a transparent and measurable evaluation process
- Building on current success while also demanding continued improvement, so that all students achieve success in a district’s schools
While we sometimes say, “Walk the walk,” “Practice what you preach,” or “Model the desired behavior,”Ghandi’s version engages my heart and mind. It activates my commitment to making the world a better place. It connects our work in schools to the actions of those far beyond our walls who foster community development, seek electoral office, protect us from danger, march the streets, advocate in courts, and do their part to make our world the place that future generations want and deserve. I am grateful for all of them, and reminded that I, too, must “Be the change.”
Melissa is an Evidence-Based Leadership coach for Studer Education, located in Pensacola, FL. Previously, she served as the Executive Director for Achievement and Accountability in the Charleston County (SC) School District. She earned her Ed.D. through the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s (HGSE) Urban Superintendents Program, and received both a Masters in School Leadership and a Masters in Education Policy and Management from HGSE. Melissa has also served as a middle school principal in the Peabody (MA) Public Schools, and as an 8th grade teacher and assistant principal in the Derry (NH) Cooperative School District. Melissa has coached aspiring and novice leaders at KIPP Jacksonville, FL; supervised teacher interns at the College of Charleston, SC and instructed graduate students in administration at American International College in Springfield, MA. Follow Dr. Matarazzo on Twitter at @LrngLdr and follow Dr. M’s weekly post “Try This Tip” here.
Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. Follow us on Twitter at @StuderEducation and visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, ranked for the seventh straight year on the Best Small and Medium Workplaces by Great Place to Work® and a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
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