Thursday, October 1, 2009

A New Step

I've pushed off my comfort zone and am starting my Principal's Qualification Journey this weekend. Most of us, I think, can relate to my nervous energy on starting a new learning experience.

My first assignment was to reflect on my Philosophy of Educational Leadership.

I enclose a draft below, which I will finalize tomorrow night. Your thoughts are welcome. It's too long I know, working on that.

Philosophy of Educational Leadership

Barbara McLaughlin

My emergent philosophy of educational leadership has it roots in the personal values and beliefs I have developed after 15 years of practice. The fundamental belief that I hold, is in the absolute right of every child to walk into a safe, respectful and caring environment, filled with professional educators and community members who use a variety of strategies and resources to ensure that every child achieves success, grows as an individual and is able to take her place as a contributing member of society.

Upon reflection, the way I have demonstrated this foundational belief throughout my practice, speaks directly to my philosophy of leadership. I truly believe in the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” (anon.) and dissolved my classroom walls to actively model inclusion, diversity and empowerment of students and staff. I made sure the community was brought into the school events. I engaged, and initiated, relevant Professional Learning Communities.

Drawing experientially from my practice, as I leader, I would model this culture of community, promote team-building, consensus and collaboration, champion for understandings of different learning styles and special needs, and promote a respect for self, others and property.

As my understanding of learning evolved during my practice, and studies, I realized the power of “cognitive constructivism, which is about how the individual learner understands things, in terms of developmental stages and learning styles” ( As an instructional leader I would bring this learning theory forward, and coach staff into a better understanding of the need of the learner to construct knowledge, of how scaffolding creates those opportunities, and of how the experiences of the learner fit into this educational model. With an understanding that not all staff is comfortable with constructivism, I would provide professional development opportunities, mentoring, and resources to help build understanding of all learners, and their diverse needs.

I believe that a leader should understand the importance of formative assessment as a tool to for feedback, to promote metacognition, and to create opportunities for differentiated teaching strategies to allow for exceptionalities and learning styles. Further, a leader must implement the collection of this data to measure student achievement, in line with Ministry assessment, evaluation and reporting guidelines.

I believe a leader should understand, and model, the use of simple technology, for student engagement, critical thinking, and accessibility, and for professional use, using tools such as announcements portrayed on wall monitors, use of collaborative professional tools, such as wikis, or electronic versions of newsletters.

I believe a leader should demonstrate empathy, resilience, honesty, and integrity. These are core characteristics, and having practiced in a classroom for 13 years, and worn a leadership mantle as Elementary Technology Consultant for the past 2 years, I am motivated to demonstrate my abilities in this arena.

I believe a leader should have a solid understanding of Education Statutes and Regulations, operations, staffing, timetabling, and effectively dealing with issues of abuse and violence. I look forward to collaborating with exemplary colleagues in extending my understanding of these key areas of leadership.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Back to School, back to school

As summer winds down to its abrupt end, it is time to look back, and forward, to the future year.

Reflecting on the last 2 years, it is important to discuss what worked in terms of adoption (simple digital media, wikis), what needs tweaking (IWB's, Discovery Education), what got left on the cutting floor (discreet applications, one size fits all allocation).

Looking forward to next year, Capital "C" collaboration (OTF Expand our Boundaries) and ECOO), and exciting new developments and ideas within the framework of my role as Elementary Academic ICT Consultant for the OCDSB (what a mouthful!)

And, a new, and much anticipated challenge for me, I will be participating in the PQP Part l Qualificiation program offered by OPC. While my present role requires Curriculum and Instructional Leadership, I am eager to collaborate with an integrated group of teachers, with varying skills sets, that are aggregated by a common goal. I look forward to bringing my existing skills to these discussions, understanding other points of educational views, and learning, oh so much learning!, from my peers and mentors, on the cutting edge theories and practicalities of educating our children for the future, and what role leadership takes in being the change agent.

Busy year? You bet! Refreshed and ready? And how! Overwhelmed? Only a little. I know I have a wide system of support in a PLN that has grown with me over the years, and that can only continue to grow.

So, in the most compelling of all movie phrases, the latest version of which I contentedly snuggled in to watch over the Atlantic on my way to London this summer, "Engage!"