All of us bring a core set of values, or assumptions, to work with us every day. These assumptions provide the basis upon which we make decisions and take action. Although I am always learning and trying to improve my thinking, I most often operate from the following working assumptions:
- Our purpose is to improve the learning and lives of each student, in each classroom, every single day. In the words of Larry Bell, "Even on our worst day we are some child's best hope". This core belief drives me daily. Our United States public school system is charged with the noble mission of reaching each student, despite their circumstance. No excuses. We must relentlessly champion equity and excellence for all.
- We must attend to the needs of the whole child - not just their achievement in math and language arts. Every student deserves to feel safe, healthy, supported, engaged, and challenged.
- Our role as educators is to be brokers of hope. We are the optimists. We believe we can get it done - and that our students are marvels. No one can deter us.
- We must improve our schools from within. Our educators and staff members are remarkable human beings. If given the time and tools necessary, we can do this work. We do not need outside consultants and legislation to 'fix' us. Instead, with professional development, interdependent teams, access to research, and time - we know what we need to do to this important work and to take collective action.
- We are never 'there' as a system. As our society is constantly changing, so does what it takes to be well educated. Our job as leaders is to create cultures of continuous inquiry and reflective practice.
- We must focus on evidence of student learning, rather than our intentions or philosophies. If students learn more with a particular approach, then it is our obligation to use that approach. Adults bickering over pedagogy does not help students in the end.
- Our job as leaders is to live the value of 'reciprocal accountability'. This means that if we ask people to complete certain tasks, we need to provide them with the tools, training, and time necessary to do it well.
I am a serial optimist - and this is the most renewing work I can imagine doing. Thank you for your partnership in building our future - together!