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?