As I approached the end of my first year at New Albany High School, I took the time to reflect on my beliefs and share them with my Staffulty and students’ parents to help them get to know me as a leader. It was challenging to put into words what I believe about students, staff, community/parents, curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and leadership. I refer to this list often as I grapple with leading change.
• I believe all students can and will learn.
• I believe students are the reason why we are here and we have our jobs.
• I believe engaged students will exceed our expectations.
• I believe the more we know about our students, the better we will be able to create the conditions for them to demonstrate growth.
• I believe in the development of the whole-child: intellectually, emotionally, socially, physically, and spiritually.
• I believe student voice and student choice lead to more engaged, active learners and leaders.
• I believe successful schools promote the 7 As: Academics, Attendance, positive Attitude, the Arts, Athletics, Acts of Service, and Activities (clubs). This creates a sense of belonging for every student.
• I believe teachers are the most important factor to student success.
• I believe we are greater as a team than as individuals.
• I believe we are responsible for our own professional development and must continue to be learners.
• I believe in the power of a Personal Learning Network for support, encouragement, learning, and sharing.
• I believe we are responsible for telling our positive story to recognize the behaviors and work we want to see more of. This leads to positive behavior and positive results.
• I believe we are highly skilled professionals who are passionate about our craft.
• I believe teacher leadership is a major element of the success of a school.
• I believe we are partners with parents and community in the development of students.
• I believe in engaging parents in the learning process in a variety of ways.
• I believe trusting relationships with parents and community improves the overall performance of students.
• I believe when we care for our students, we gain the respect of our parents and community, thus we increase their support.
Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
• I believe common assessments improve instruction, make collaboration meaningful, and increase student achievement.
• I believe in a strong literacy program that includes reading and writing across the curriculum. I believe we should have a common writing rubric created by teachers that is used across the curriculum.
• I believe rigor is a result of relevant lesson design and positive classroom relationships.
• I believe in students reading common texts to reinforce a shared knowledge, and I believe in choice reading. This gives students a chance to examine common themes across a variety of texts, perspectives, and cultural identities.
• I believe students learn by doing, so an active and engaging learning environment is a place where students are learning.
• I believe learning is a messy, non-linear process.
• I believe learning is our one constant. Time, resources, location are variables.
• I believe in implementing formative instructional practices to personalize learning for all students.
• I believe we are to teach critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication through our content.
• I believe that great teaching and learning create a great school.
• I believe there is more than one way to teach, as long as it improves learner performance.
• I believe in examining student work to evaluate the effectiveness of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
• I believe healthy school environments reflect upon and respond to data to make decisions about curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
• I believe grades should be a reflection of what students know and are able to do.
• I believe in assessment retakes and re-dos in order for students to demonstrate mastery.
• I believe we must have some common beliefs about grading and assessment in order to provide equitable opportunities in our classrooms.
• I believe that a positive school culture promotes academic success, makes learning more relevant, and promotes positive behavior.
• I believe in establishing positive relationships among students, staff, and parents.
• I believe we learn through failure, as long as we fail forward. We should take calculated risks to stretch our students and ourselves.
• I believe in adaptive leadership, which means implementing a variety of strategies to problem-solve, think critically, make decisions, and serve others, depending on the situation.
• I believe the Principal is the most influential person in the school. Good or bad.
• I believe people lead change, not programs, and it’s always about people.
• I believe that a shared vision, shared values, and shared norms lead to a positive school climate.
• I believe in continuous improvement, which means we are in a constant state of learning, growth, and reflection.
• I believe there are three types of leadership decisions: mine, yours, ours.
• I believe leaders ought to serve others.
• I believe that, “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” –Dr. James Comer