A school administrator is an educational leader who promotes the success of all students by advocating, nurturing and sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to student learning and staff professional growth.
Nurture and Sustain a culture of collaboration, trust, learning, and high expectations
In his book The Unschooled Mind, Howard Gardner affirms, "Good schooling of the mind, the best education, occurs one sensitive encounter at a time. The best schools are inevitably individualized, boutique operations, each with its distinctive history, culture, and aspirations." I believe that the best way to advocate, nurture, and sustain a school culture is to develop a collaborative culture of thinking. In that environment, all members of the school community work together to foster intellectual dispositions to support student growth and learning. All members of the school community are valued, and each individual has the opportunity to develop and utilize their unique talents to enhance the lives of those around them. In his book Intellectual Character, Dr. Ron Ritchhart explains, "...Character is not a matter of ability but commitment. So with intellectual character: it basically has to do not with how smart people are but how they invest their intelligence, with what commitment to imagination, evidence, inquiry, fairness, and the like."
Interview with Dr. Ron Ritchhart
What should building leaders consider as we work to create a culture of thinking?
Sending positive messages and developing trust from the first day of school...
Creating a personalized and motivating learning environment for students
Creating a comprehensive, rigorous, and coherent curricular program
When I first begin exploring cultures of thinking, the first place I began was experimenting with thinking protocols (http://www.visiblethinkingpz.org). What I quickly realized was that digging deeper and allowing students to explain their thinking required time. It was certainly time I was willing to spend! However, this revelation allowed me to reflect on how I was utilizing my time in general. Was I effectively leveraging my conference hour in the best manner possible? What I discovered was that I was spending a great deal analyzing student writing samples. Since my students entered class in the middle of our Language! text, I wasn't sure which types of writing they had practiced in the past. My first thought... If I am spending a lot of time on this, I bet other teachers are as well. My second thought... I bet I could do something to help! Soon thereafter, we had formed a team to create a comprehensive writing map. Our goal was to include easier access to the scope and sequence of Books A-F in the Language! program, which spans over six years of instruction. As part of this process, we worked directly with Nancy Everhart, a co-author of the Language! curriculum, working together to streamline parts of this curriculum for students in resource program settings. The end result? We now save valuable time, allowing us to dedicate more energy to constructing better learning opportunities for our students.