The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

Required Reading for Today from @joshlinkner: Be a creator, not an imitator

Followers of “The Principal’s Principles” and my Twitter feed are likely to know that I am a big fan of Josh Linkner, an author, speaker and entrepreneur. His column this week focused on originality, and had many lessons for educators as we get set to start the school year.

If you’d prefer to skip what I think about the piece, and just find Josh’s column, click here.

As we settle back into our offices and classrooms, here’s a reminder to take a look at everything we do and ask ourselves, do I do this because it is good, or because “that’s how we’ve always done it?” Does your homework policy, approach to student discipline, leadership style, or grading philosophy belong to you, or, do you simply replicate what you were taught by a more experienced educator? Do you embrace the freedoms that you have in your role, or, do you simply fit into “the system.”

Originality can be a challenge in today’s schools. Legislative mandates, curriculum maps, and other district policies can pose constraints to the creativity that Linkner calls for. As you read this, you may be thinking “I’d love to, but how can I do that and prep for standardized tests?”

For teachers, content may follow a curriculum map, but the instruction, assessment and grading do not have to. The department of education may give “standardized tests” for students, but personalized relationships are totally at the discretion of the teacher.

For administrators, mandates for professional development exist, but the plan for the day has wide flexibility that you can be creative and collaborative with. Just because you are “only provided a checklist” for evaluation purposes does not mean you cannot collaborate with staff members on a tool that will help them reflect and grow through your classroom observations. Your communication with parents, expectations and relationships with students, and the way you empower members of your staff are totally up to you.

“Because we have always done it this way” is the worst reason to do anything. Take some time as you get back to work and take a look at what you are doing. Is it an authentic, original reflection of you as an educator, or just an imitation of something you heard someone else is doing?

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3 thoughts on “Required Reading for Today from @joshlinkner: Be a creator, not an imitator

  1. Great piece. You’re right, it’s important to examine the things we do. Are We doing them for the right reasons or because that’s the way they’ve always been done. I’m going to use this as a reflection point as I begin my new school year. Thanks!

    • Thanks for the response! Glad I could be helpful. Thought a lot about new teachers as I wrote this. How many do what they observed during student teaching out of a fear of being different or out of step?

  2. David Goetz on said:

    Great post John! This perspective will be helpful with my new position. There will be so many new policies and procedures coming my way, it will be important to ask myself why I am doing it that way and make sure it is not just because that is the way it has always been done. Thanks!

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