Keeping the Focus on Students

As a new administrator (and shortly a new mother), I have spent a lot of time trying to define my leadership style. After coming on board at Upper Perkiomen High School at the end of the 13-14 school year, I felt it was essential to build rapport, develop relationships with the faculty and staff, “show up”, and make sure there was some consistency until the end of the school year. Maybe as a credit to past administrators, the faculty welcomed me into their building with open arms. Upon my arrival, faculty members shared with successes, failures, concerns, and struggles with me. I was, and still am, happy to listen and share.

We are now well into the 2014-2015 school year. I need to continue to remember that nurturing positive relationships and rapport with the staff will pave the road for change at UPHS. However, I believe my focus needs to broaden to encompass teaching, learning, and instruction throughout the school. As educators, our focus needs to be on the individual student. Conversations in the school need to be framed around how to provide the best education to individuals and provide our students with a multitude of opportunities to pursue their interests and passions.

It is pretty amazing to me that schools and administrators can so easily become immersed in issues that shift the focus away from instructional leadership. This year, in order for UPHS to run efficiently, administrators and teachers have needed to manage a transition to a new student information system, address disciplinary concerns, attend to parent and student concerns and questions, deliver a curriculum, and plan for and implement the ever changing mandates funneling down from PDE (among other things). All of these “tasks” shift the focus away from student centered teaching, learning and instruction. Everyday, I need to set time aside to be present in classes to provide feedback to teachers and students, to have conversations and reflect on student centered instructional practices and create opportunities for students to engage in their interests and passions. My students deserve nothing less. A necessary but lofty goal as a new school administrator and mother….

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