Philosophy

Jump to Sharyn’s Leadership Philosophy

Colin

(Technology) Leadership Philosophy

In over fifteen years of working in the educational technology field I have developed a number of principles I base my (technology) leadership vision and philosophy around. These principles are cultivated from working closely with students, teachers, parents, leadership teams, and school boards in all the schools I have worked in. Naturally I have evolved my thinking over the years with hindsight, experience, and reflection. What I may have taken on board eagerly ten years ago; I may not now. What I may not have taken into account 5 years ago; I may take into consideration today.

I believe these are broad leadership principles that can be applied across a broader spectrum of educational scenarios. As the years have gone on, technology in education has been constantly debated to the point of repetition. I have put technology in brackets in my philosophy document as it has become a word that gets pinned up and paraded as a sometimes contentious and sometimes lauded talking point where it really shouldn’t be. Technology is a set of tools and approaches that we should use to enhance teaching and learning. It should just exist in schools in a healthy and balanced environment; mirroring the positive aspects of technology use from both our teachers’ and students’ outside lives.

Embracing Diversity
In every school the environment is unique and cultivated in a way that may not be transferrable to any other school in the world. That’s what makes international schools amazing places to teach and learn in. With this in mind, I believe that the technology environment in a school is unique to that school. In every school I have worked in I have assessed and ascertained where the school is at in its philosophy and vision of technology in teaching and learning and have adjusted and adapted my approach whilst using my experience to develop and enrich existing technological approaches. It’s imperative to fully understand a school’s vision and mission before implementing widespread initiatives.

Empowering Ownership
Nobody learns if you have to help with them with the same task repeatedly. I approach learner development with the approach of “teaching them how to fish, instead of giving them a fish”. If I introduce to you the power of connecting and reaching out to staff at your own school and colleagues around the world to get resources and feedback instead of telling you how explicitly to achieve a task this will empower self-directed learning and a sense of independency and ownership with your own (diverse) solution.

Empathetic Communication
Technology is still seen (by some) as something they don’t have time for or are unable to adapt to. Whether that is true or not is not the point; it’s whether that mindset can be changed with guidance. I believe it can with a differentiated approach to every individual learner. Finding common ground and being empathetic to each individual while trying to solve diverse problems is paramount. With a blended approach of empowering ownership of a problem and an empathetic and guiding dialog I believe learners can reach the most effective solution within their means. This in turn gives them the ownership and confidence in trying new things and embracing change.

Establishing Environments
With all these principles together, along with policies, vision, and plans, an environment that is conducive to the unique educational establishment can be cultivated in a way that benefits all stakeholders. An environment where risk taking and celebrating failures as well as successes are welcomed and encouraged. An environment where innovative approaches to problems are more common than not. An environment where attitudes towards progression and change are positively debated and consensus driven.

Encouraging Leaders
Just like we love to step back in the classroom to encourage our students to lead and teach their peers we must encourage our faculty to do the same. Ironically, some teachers are the most reluctant to be risk-takers when it comes to innovative change in the classroom and school. Teachers need to be made aware that they have important things to share and to teach to their fellow teachers; both at school and globally. Encouraging self-directed learning and research and promoting local and global collaboration and communication between teachers and schools is something all schools should have at the forefront of any professional development policy.

Sharyn

The key question that guides my leadership philosophy is ‘How will this improve student learning?’. I believe every discussion, decision, and action we take in a school should be guided by this essential question. My role as a leader is to ensure effective practices and procedures are in place in order to model this philosophy and have it permeate throughout the school; advocating for every learner, every day.

Creating a positive and professional learning culture ensures the question of ‘how this improves student learning’ is at the heart of all discussions and decisions. Through understanding that teacher effectiveness is a powerful influencer on student learning and that every teacher can improve, I believe a positive and professional learning culture can thrive. We are then empowered to put professional growth into our practice and insist we are held accountable to our students.

Leading and maintaining current knowledge in the areas of curriculum, assessment, and international education ensures alignment with improved student learning. Understanding and implementing research based pedagogy ensures our students have a relevant and challenging learning environment. I believe keeping current in these areas allows us as educators to meet the needs of the whole child, including academic, social, and emotional.

Open communication and effective feedback empowers students to have ownership over their own learning by understanding where they are in their learning and using the timely and effective teacher feedback to move beyond.  Communication and feedback also allow our parents to grow as critical partners in their child’s learning. I establish and promote the value of feedback amongst all stakeholders in the school.

Remaining current, connected, and reflective as an educator demonstrates accountability for the school’s mission and vision. I believe we need to collaborate and engage with each other so as not to limit our perspectives.Through this self awareness I can continue to monitor and enhance my leadership skills, while supporting my teachers as they work with the students each and every day, impacting their learning.

Instilling a balance of both consistency and growth in a school supports the school’s mission, vision, and strategic plan as living documents. Knowing your school and where it is on their journey, supports being the change agent it needs. As a visiting team member for IB, CIS and WASC, I hold the accreditation process in high regards as it is a critical process in which we continually grow and improve as a school. This process requires the voice of our students, as they are directly impacted by any changes in their learning environment.