May 13

K-12 Education Leadership through Love, Respect, Service and Fun


This time of year brings forth one key change with K-12 districts around the country - the change in school board leadership. Elections from November have been completed and elected candidates are beginning to make the impact on their community they promised they would.

School boards members have brought increasingly disparate views over the last several years as various societal and political issues have been battled in this arena. Whether the issue be equity, appropriateness of books, the achievement gap, etc., the discussions are many times contentious and eventually unproductive. In talking with a number of board members and district leaders, the cause of the lack of productivity seems to be mostly related to the inability of board members to connect with one another and find productive ways of communicating one's opinions and potential areas for agreement. Whether they recognize it or not, they are more interested in advocating the positions they ran on until they're blue in the face than getting good work done.

With this upcoming change in Board composition, how can new members most effectively enable the change they envision as being right for the community and students? Well, it's certain that screaming at the top of one's lungs while having feet dug in the ground like politicians in others areas is not the answer.

Let's look at how The Four Fundamental Forces of Leadership might provide some assistance, specifically through the force of Respect. How can we look again at what success looks like and what finding common frequencies to communicate might bring.

What does success really look like for a Board and a school district?

American politics seems to define success as being able to win a particular battle or obtain a specific result that one campaigned on. This has permeated school boards as well. Board members may think getting what one wants will translate to a greater good. However, such specific and individual views usually have only a small connection with the purpose and mission of the district and board, usually set around creating lifelong learners and contributing members of our community.

Let's look at a mission statement example that is becoming prominent in many districts. "Our mission is to inspire and prepare each and every scholar with the confidence, courage and competence to achieve their dreams; contribute to community; and engage in a lifetime of learning."

This is a broad, open mission that allows for students to find their own path. The strategic plan appropriately flows from that to outline programs and initiatives to support the mission. Those programs and initiatives have various tasks that are done every day through policies and processes. 

Success in the mission could partially be measured from test scores and graduation rates. However, there isn't much room for placement of restrictors (they can't have this or must have that; they can't do this or must do that) if fulfillment of the mission is to be obtained. Many board members run on operational components of restrictors in order to resonate with an electorate. That's not only NOT their job, working on the board to get those small items implemented usually runs counter to maximizing a student's potential in school and in the future.

What makes one student of equal aptitude better than the one next to them? It's the Four Fundamental Forces of 

Have you ever wondered how one student is a better student than another when variables such as IQ, home life, age, etc. are equal? One would say there's an interest in a subject or topic. That's true...but.

There is more Love for something. It could be for the subject matter. It could be for learning. It could be love from a teacher who connected with them in a different way and set them on a different path.

They have taken the time to Respect what they learn. They connect ideas and concepts together. They use more of their senses to take in information. They look to others to gain greater truth.

They Serve themselves and others in ways to help breed success. My younger son used to be called the human calculator in elementary school. He would be the teacher's assistant who would help other students with math so they could get it. That service helped him love math more.

Lastly, they have Fun in the classroom, in the subject matter, with themselves and others.

At a foundational and fundamental level, they go at the practice of learning differently. It's more important to put students in a position where they see learning in a different light. When the four fundamental forces of leadership are used at greater levels, test scores and other measurements soar. There's more interest in key subjects which inspire students towards something more. By focusing on the core components of learning, the measurements that are so critical are met and exceeded.


education, K-12, learning, teaching

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