Reflections on How I Could have Been A More Effective Educator and Administrator on Behalf of Students
I consider myself a deeply reflective person and educator. My career in education has been a successful and fulfilling one. I remember being invited to and then watching my best friend Kenny teaching a class, and then advising an after-school club of student athletes back in the late 1980’s. It changed my career path and my life.
My memories of k-12 and certain teachers in particular weren’t necessarily positive. Yet, watching the way that Kenny worked with and connected with his students was a game-changer. Over the next two decades, I became a teacher, instructional coach, principal, National Director of Leadership Development, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction, and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.
Now that I am settling into a role of an educational consultant, I find myself thinking about my work and it’s impact on others, and myself. My early years in education were spent in deeply economically disadvantaged school districts and cities (Oakland, Hayward, East San Jose). Nevertheless, my career thrived and I climbed the ladder of administrative roles to the superintendent’s cabinet level.
Maybe it was karma, or just good fortune, but I was always assigned the tough schools and the students that other teachers couldn’t handle. This was fine, since they were always good with me. However, my direct work with students was delivered through a more intuitive manner than research driven. So, although I was very successful with my students, it wasn’t centered on the literature or research. I longed for a resource that not only would get straight to the heart of teaching and learning, but could also be used in both high achieving and struggling school districts. I found myself needing to write this blog because I have just finished a book that I wish I had read years and years ago! It is titled, “Every Student, Every Day: A No-Nonsense Nurturer Approach To Reaching All Learners (by Kristyn Klei Borrero).”
Every new teacher should be given a copy by HR, and every veteran teacher should be provided a copy by their site administrator! What a wonderful gift this book is!! It helps teachers engage in:
· Deliberate reflection
· Building deep connections with their students
· Effective communication
· Changing and building new habits of mind
· A simple, yet powerful, approach to classroom management
· How to be a strong yet caring teacher
It also allows for issues of race, class, and culture to be leveraged as a developmental process of building trust, equity, and effective communication towards high academic achievement.
Principals evaluate their staff, but the successful ones also wear the hat of a coach. This book is of great value to principals in both roles. As a coach and evaluator, it would have saved my life in assisting my staff with:
· Processing their work and seeing it through an outside lens
· Setting achievable incremental growth goals
· Framing immediate feedback based upon your observations
· Supporting new ways of “being” for your evaluatees.
I (and others), often find Standards dry. I had always wanted to give immediate feedback in a way that a staff member could work on when they left my office. As a site administrator, this is what I would have wanted to see if I walked in the door of all of my classrooms. It also addresses the “Just tell me what to do” syndrome in a way that balances the instructional (ways of doing) in a way that leads to the transformational (ways of being) development of the teacher and student.
I think you can tell just how excited that I am to have found this book! This text should be a part of all Teacher Prep and Administrative credential programs. I will certainly be drawing upon it in my current role as an educational consultant. Rarely do I recommend a book or espouse research to move others. I find that at the end of the day, my work is relational at it’s heart. Maybe that’s why I have become so energized by Kristyn Klei Borrero’s book. It speaks to my heart and intellect.