We ARE the system

[cross-posted at LeaderTalk]

As school leaders, we have the responsibility to

  • Facilitate learning environments that are respectful, empowering, and engaging for students
  • Create workplaces that are respectful, empowering, and engaging for staff
  • Prepare students for what is and will be, not what was
  • Build trust, not erode it
  • Be buffers, not barriers

and so on…

We can point fingers. We can blame others. We can rail against the system. But we must recognize that we are in charge of the system. In essence, as stewards of school organizations, we ARE the system. We create the system every day.

We must point those fingers inward. We must blame ourselves before we blame others. We must recognize the impacts of our own actions rather than always blaming external factors. Only then does real progress occur.

Principals, superintendents, curriculum directors, technology coordinators, and educational leadership professors: Are you ready to take responsibility for your own decision-making? Our students and staff deserve better…

[Inspired by yet another tale of woe by practicing educators about their poor leadership – and by my own recent failings as a professor.]

7 Responses to “We ARE the system”

  1. This was certainly a good read. We all need to remember there needs to be a balance between “blaming” and taking responsibility. While it’s true that we have many factors working against us, we also have a part to play in the standards we set.

  2. B. Wendell Jones Reply April 3, 2010 at 9:09 am

    One of my favorite quotes, “When pointing one finger – remember – three are pointing back at you!”.

  3. “Prepare students for what is and will be, not what was.”
    I need to emblazon that quote on our Board room walls as well as every wall in every classroom in our district. In a world of mission statements and vision statements, that one, brief statement embodies both ideas of “why do we exist” and “what kind of organization to we want to become.”

  4. Scott,
    Great. Insightful. Bang on.

    As leaders, we need to be ready to lead. Despite the fact that it would be nice to be able to “share the blame”, the reality is we are the ones who are wanted to be in those position. We have a different role within education than teachers and need to recognize that role, embrace it and then get on with it. And when we mess up, learn from it!

    Check out my latest post on this very subject!

  5. Reminds me of the “just do it” attitude of Seth Godin in Linchpins. He’s always pushing the idea that you choose to be a cog—it’s not something that’s forced on you.

    And from my perspective, the school principal has a tremendous opportunity to drive meaningful change simply because there is less direct supervision and oversight of the day to day actions of principals than there is of any other role in education.

    Wiggle room exists—and wiggle room gives you freedom to invent and imagine something new.

    That doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences for decisions that just don’t work, but it does mean that when you hit a home run—even if it comes through an unexpected act that your supervisor didn’t directly approve—your work is likely to be celebrated.

    The kicker is you have to be brave enough to take the first swing.

    Any of this make sense? I feel like I’m babbling.

  6. YES!!!

    OK…so today I was caught complaining about how other people weren’t willing to do something and I wasn’t supported in something and that’s why nothing would change. I guess this is the post I was meant to read today.Thanks.

  7. Finding the one to blame or blaming ourselves is not what is most concerning. What’s mostly important is that we must take responsibility for our actions. Professors and teachers should be aware of the fact that the future of education depends on their shoulders. Have resolve in your decision to teach and continue doing what is best for the students who rely on you.

Leave a Reply