You may read my leadership platform below, or view it on the google document.
Curriculum and Instruction
I believe a school’s curriculum should be rigorous, engaging and student-centered. The main focus of instruction should be to teach 21st century skills: communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. I believe this because as a student I did not have this type of education. I was taught to memorize and restate exactly what I was told and I did not learn as much as I could have. There are many topics to be addressed about curriculum including its rigor, pacing, level of engagement, interventions for subgroups, and assessments. However, the most important aspect of curriculum and instruction is delivery of the instruction. This is done by teachers and they should be able to work with the curriculum to make it the best that it can be. This will be accomplished through teacher collaboration and fine tuning of the curriculum. It is vital that teachers are motivated to teach the best way possible, and working together to use the curriculum to its full effect will result in the highest student achievement. I have worked with my colleagues to develop learning communities to develop curriculum and create projects to support student learning. This creates an environment where teachers and students are motivated to learn.
Parent and Community Involvement
I believe a highly effective school is one that partners with the parents and community members to make it the best it can be. Parents and community members can be an untapped resource for schools to use when in need. I believe this because I have worked at schools where there is little to no parental involvement and others where there is an abundance of involvement. The schools without parental involvement can still be great schools, but what makes a fantastic school is one that works together with parents to make a school that benefits all stakeholders. Parents and community members can support schools in so many ways including fundraising, volunteering, supporting students, and facilitating special events. The aspect of parental involvement that I want to focus on is open communication between parents and teachers. If parents and teachers can work together to make a child’s learning experience better, the student can achieve much more. I believe starting off the year by having teachers and parents discussing student learning and how it will work best for everyone will begin the year on a positive note and will support student achievement. At the beginning of the school year, I reach out to parents by email to introduce myself and let them know that I am available to them for any questions and concerns throughout the year. This opens the channel of communication between the parents and myself which allows for a great support system for all students.
Discipline and School Climate/Culture
I believe a positive school culture revolves around unity and cohesion amongst all stakeholders. In order to create this type of school culture, a school should have rules for the entire school to follow. Three possible rules could be: be safe, be kind and be productive. If everyone at a school follows these rules, everyone will have clear expectations and it will create cohesion for discipline. I believe this because I’ve been at a school where every classroom uses the same rules, which creates continuity between grade levels and classrooms to promote cohesiveness at the school. Schools that do not promote cohesion between classrooms can cause confusion. If the entire staff works together to create a positive school climate by establishing clear expectations that everyone is expected to follow, it will bring everyone together to create a cohesive unit. I worked at a school that had this cohesiveness. Every teacher and every student, no matter the grade level, knew the rules and all teachers could expect the same behavior from all students. The school worked so closely together to create a strong, positive school culture and it showed. Students followed directions no matter which teacher was talking, and everyone was motivated to behave to maintain a positive learning environment.
I believe that technology is a new, extraordinary tool that allows teachers and students to do things we were never able to do before. Technology allows us to prepare students for the 21st century workforce, allowing students to experiment, and produce work that is relevant in today's society. I believe this because I have seen how students can flourish when given the opportunity to demonstrate their learning using technology. Students are eager to use technology and we should use this motivation to support their learning. Technology allows students to research, communicate, collaborate, produce documents, and slideshows, all while being creative. The aspect of technology I want to focus on is allowing students to be creative. For so many years, state standards focused on students learning content one specific way. With the Common Core State Standards, students are encouraged to show their thinking in creative ways. Technology allows students to be creative while learning content at the same time.
As a school leader there are three things that are non-negotiable for me. First, I need all staff members and myself to feel safe at our school. I want a school climate in which people feel open and accepted and are free from harm from anyone or anything. This is non-negotiable. Second, I need all staff on campus to trust each other and myself. If there isn’t trust between staff members or staff members and myself, I need to have a serious look at why that is and address the problem. Trust is vital to moving forward and causing change. Without it, our school will not be at its best. Third, I need all staff and myself to have a growth mindset. Everyone needs to be willing and open to change to move our school and students forward. Having a growth mindset means we can see the potential and are willing to work to drive towards success. These are my non-negotiables. They need to be expected from me and my staff. If these are not met, we need to have a conversation. I believe a safe school, that has trust between its staff members, and a growth mindset, will allow anything to be accomplished.
As a school leader, my style can best be described as the Democratic leader. I believe the best type of leadership includes shared decision making between all stakeholders. Teachers would not be seen as my followers, but as my equals who will work with me to achieve our desired goals. I would rely on teachers to work with me to make group decisions through discussions and consensus. Further within the Democratic leadership category, my style can be best described as the Distributive Leader. My teachers and I would share the leadership responsibilities at my school. We would work together to create a successful school. This requires that I create a climate in which my teachers feel that collectively we can achieve success which would motivate them to work with me to create change. I want my teachers to feel that I trust them, respect them and need them to make our school the best school in the universe.
I have been in education for about eight years altogether. This is my sixth year teaching in my own classroom in the Cajon Valley Union School District, but I was a substitute teacher for two years before entering the credential program in the Lemon Grove School District. Of my six years in my own classroom, I have taught fifth grade for five of those years. After earning my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential I got hired my first few months out of the credential program as a support teacher. I worked at Chase Avenue Elementary as a part time teacher for three years. My first year was as a support teacher, teaching various subjects to third, fourth and fifth graders, and my second two years were as a part-time fifth grade classroom teacher, teaching math, science, social studies and English language development. I then transferred to W.D. Hall Elementary School and have taught fifth grade for two more years. At W.D. Hall I departmentalize with the other fifth grade teachers and teach math to all the different fifth grade classes. My team and I work really closely together and provide a great experience for our fifth graders. Outside of the classroom, I have served on the Performance Task Development Team at my district, piloted digital and print math curriculum and am currently the grade level chair for fifth grade at my school. Last year, I was also exceptionally flattered to be nominated for Teacher of the Year.
I believe this because the times I remember from my school experience were the times I spent with my friends laughing and playing. I remember very little from the times in the classroom unless it was an extremely memorable lesson in which I used skills besides listening and memorizing content. This is unfortunate. I look at my students today and wonder if they will remember their fifth grade year with me when they are older. What makes a great learning experience for students? It’s not acquiring content and memorizing facts. It’s the times when you used skills like collaborating with others, solving problems that mattered to you and being creative. These are the skills that students need to have when they are older and they are also the most engaging strategies to use when learning. Why aren’t these used more? I remember one lesson in middle school in which my teacher read an incredible, fantastical story about how he was a shape-shifting wolf and we were asked to write the ending to the story. The story was obviously fictional, but to my 12-year-old brain, and a convincing teacher, I thought it had to be true. This drew me in. I wrote the ending to the story and remember how invested and interested I was in that activity. These are the types of things that children should be working on in school. Not memorizing multiplication facts (we have calculators) or spelling every single word correct on the spelling test (we also have spell check). Instead, we should focus on things that students are interested in and will challenge them to be critical thinkers and creative beings. These experiences will help them thrive and live up to their full potential in our global society.
I believe the main purpose of education is to provide children with a safe and nurturing learning environment that allows them to prepare for the real world. The four main concepts that should be practiced throughout their educational experience are critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity. These are the four skills that are critical to being successful in today’s global society. The 21st century is no longer a place where children need to memorize facts and accumulate knowledge, thanks to technology. Instead, it is a place where children need to practice questioning, creatively seeking answers, and working with others. Honing these skills throughout their years of education will prepare them for being a contributing member of our global society.