In my daily interaction with parents and students I am regularly reminded that education is a lot more than just the written curriculum. As a community of learners, we are educating students in more than just the mind. Modeling good character makes up a lot of the unwritten curriculum (although, this education actually IS embedded in our ESLRs). In some ways, I think ‘common sense’ and good character make up the majority of our ‘unwritten curriculum’. Yet, how do you model courage, humility, and reflection? Lifelong learning and a community of learners cannot happen without these.
When teachers show a passion for teaching AND learning, hold students to high standards, strive to improve and admit that they may not always have the answers they have done more than help students learn their educational goals… they have established an environment that nurtures good character. It takes courage to be firm, hold students to high expectations and admit when you may not have all the answers.
And, as I was recently reminded at a faculty meeting where we explored characteristics of effective teachers, a precondition for reflection on self-improvement is humility. How can we improve ourselves without first admitting there’s room for improvement? Ultimately, school leaders must sustain and nurture a school culture of collaboration, trust and high expectations by wearing many hats and dealing with the “paradoxes of the principalship”… no easy feat (Deal and Peterson).
This is not only important for teachers and administrators to embrace but also for parents and students to recognize. Yes, let’s celebrate the many talents around us and learn from each other AND let’s take time to humbly reflect on the miracle of life that we have been given and how we can better ourselves. And then, work to do it!
By promoting clarity of values (both, individual and cultural) and intentions; promoting self-reliance (as opposed to looking outside for solutions to school issues); and, establishing a truly collaborative atmosphere built on openness and trust, a school leader can build a powerful community of learners “that promotes the success of every student by advocating, nurturing and sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to student learning and staff professional growth” (DuFour, et al, Educational Leadership Policy Standards).
Deal, Terrence and Peterson, K. (2009) Shaping School Culture; pitfalls, paradoxes, and promises. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
DuFour, Rebecca et al. (2005) On Common Ground: The Power of Professional LearningCommunities. Bloomington: Solution Tree.
“Educational Leadership Policy Standards: ISLLC 2008.” Principals.org: “National Association of Secondary School Principals” NASSP. 09 Aug. 2010. Web. 09 Aug. 2010. <http://www.principals.org/Information/PrincipalDevelopers/ISLLC2008.aspx>.