Vice Principal, Educator - High School

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What are the essential traits of 21st century school leaders?

I am curious about how a leader (or group of leaders) may navigate what appears to be a massive change process. With so many of our current educators versed in the industrial model of education, what would it take to inspire them to change their focus to a more personalized view of learning. What would cause you to make a shift in your practice, and how might a principal/vice principal encourage these changes? What do leaders do to facilitate positive personal/professional growth?

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    Jul 1 2011: Why should we relly on leaders for our kids education?
    My answer is get parents on board!
    • Jul 1 2011: Good point. Our definition of "leaders" will undoubtedly have to change as well. Any thought as how to get parents engaged - especially during the high school years? Thanks for your input.
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      Jul 1 2011: Julian - spot on. There is no greater influence of kid's attitudes than their parents.
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    Jul 1 2011: In the same way we want to deliver personalised learning to students, we need to let teachers deliver in a personalised fashion - they are, after all, qualified professionals.

    This will also mean scrapping - completely - standardised assessment practice. The bureaucrats won't like that at all but their role is changing too.
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        Jul 1 2011: Your attitude towards academic hierarchies betrays your 20th Century education..
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    • Jul 1 2011: Thanks for the feedback. I agree that teachers are professional and deserve some autonomy but I am also wary about the fact that many of us have become comfortable in a model that we found to be successful, and may balk at the idea of change. I wholeheartedly agree that personalized learning and standardized testing are at odds with each other. How might an educational leader (currently administration) successfully engage teachers in the conversation that this change may create positive learning outcomes for student and teacher alike? For too many years, it seems to me, we have focused primarily on the teaching aspect, and less focus has been on the actual learning.
      Zim, I agree that higher education must weigh in on this matter but I am also aware that many teachers may see "learning programs" designed by university professors as the epitome of the gap that often exists between theory and practice. Where are you from? In Canada, getting into teacher training is one of the more challenging programs to be accepted into. Once again thanks for your contributions
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        • Jul 1 2011: An interesting point of view, and while I don't believe that Canada takes "its cue from the United States in all matters of education" - I do think that we continue to look for answers both within our borders and internationally. Certainly there is much to learn from Finland and other progressive countries. Our current model has some similiarities to the U.S. - and for that reason we will look to the research coming out of the many fine institutions south of the border - yet, there are many differences that may be reason for some of the success that the Canadian educational system experiences in international testing (such as the PISA). However, I am conscious of the fact that we constantly need to assess how we are doing and how to best meet the needs of our learners in an ever-evolving, technology-based society. Do you have a sense of what could create the impetus for change at the school level? How would an experienced teacher be inspired to stray from the comforts of what they know to the excitement of becoming a guiding influence in a more personalized structure? I appreciate your feedback
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        • Jul 1 2011: Actually, the mean score for ALL students for math, science, and reading were consistently quite strong - in comparison to some, and lesser than others. However, I am heartened to hear that the current systems in place are creating support and resiliency for disadvantaged immigrant students. Fullan is an international figure, but is not the lone educational researcher. Sir Ken Robinson is engaging and certainly makes some interesting points...though I would not suggest he has attained the level of prophet. I am not interested in debating the merits/challenges of your/our current educational systems, but am curious about what could inspire the people within them to change for the better. By the way, thanks for the NY Times link.
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        Jul 1 2011: Time to biff the models - it's kids we need to teach, not systems.
        • Jul 1 2011: Agreed. Any thoughts about a structure/model that would be more conducive to achieving that goal?
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    Jul 2 2011: @ Zim and Gene- sorry, couldn't reply to your reply so doing it here.

    I'm not advocating that teachers should go unchecked or not be appraised, but there is so much of that already and honestly, it has gotten to the point where it is just one of those "tick the right box, say the right words" type of rigmarole.

    A seemingly obvious fix would be to increase teacher salaries drastically to attract the cream but in fact you would attract the wrong sort of person - money oriented.

    When a curriculum is rigid and assessment systems are deeply flawed, the only hope for the kids lies with the very teachers people are blaming.

    My personal opinion is that the first step is to quarter class sizes. No mucking around, Teacher to Student ratio should be 1:10, tops.

    More money for resources - always a hard one cos it don't grow on trees, but how serious are we about educating the future generations?

    Parents and community members stepping up and getting involved and making it happen. Parents often think they should pipe down because the teacher knows best. This is simply not true. Everyone in the parent/teacher/student/community circle has something of value to provide.

    Ultimately, my beef is with many current methods of assessment - if any part of the education system smacks of being outmoded and ancient, it is this. Much assessment is actually for the purposes of ministries (of education) and govt to bandy about numbers in the generic sense of averages. This has little relevance to individual learners.

    Independent, lifelong learners need to be the ones doing the assessment if they are to be truly given the keys and drive, so to speak.
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    Jul 1 2011: What about Stalin's approach? He would just throw you into a big pyre if you didn't listen to him.