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Following Your Mother's Advice - BE NICE
The Leadership Principles of Being N. I. I. I. C. E.
There is much talk among school leaders today about preparing our students to be 21st century learners. If that is so, then we should also prepare our school administrators to be 21st century school leaders. As a result of my prior experience and much thought, I want to offer this model for effective 21st century Leaders to follow. Take your mother’s advice and be N.I.I.I.C.E.
N. NEEDS: Understanding the needs of the school, students. and community.
The first step to improvement should be observing and evaluating critical needs, not necessarily taking action (Mom always said, "Haste makes waste."). The effective leader will analyze data, while listening to teachers, students, and community members to understand the critical needs of the school. The effective 21st century Leader will not waste time and energy chasing the wants of the organization, but instead will truly understand the critical needs and how those needs are to be met.
I. INSPIRE: The power of influence.
I have often heard that effective leaders do not change people, they inspire people to change. How is it that a new coach can come into a poor situation where the team has been unsuccessful for years and in a short time turn that program into winners? This kind of transformation can only happen through the leader's power to inspire. Effective leaders of the 21st century will seek to inspire change, not demand it.
I. INSTRUCTION: Be the instructional leader of the school.
Along with the many daily tasks and responsibilities of running a school, the effective 21st century leader must realize the importance of student-centered instruction, understand the meaning of rigor and relevance, and recognize evidence of highly effective teaching and learning. The 21st century school leader must embody a complete instructional leader: they must be able to offer their teachers constructive feedback and specific strategies to improve classroom instruction and student learning.
I. INNOVATION: Fresh, cutting edge, and technologically advanced ideas.
The effective 21st century leader will live on the edge of innovation. They will lead the way in new ideas, new technology, and new instructional strategies. The leaders will be innovative in the curriculum, pairing educational standards with the students' goals to ultimately prepare them for a successful career. The effective school leader understands the importance of being connected in social networking groups such as Twitter, Pinterest, Edutopia, or Educator’s PLN. The effective leader will constantly be looking for ways to improve their staff and encourage their teachers to try innovative strategies.
C. CONNECTION: Building relationships.
The ability to connect your employees in a collaborative relationship is a vital component to the success of a 21st century school leader. The demands on the time of our employees have never been greater than they are today. From work to school to family, the stress and strain can be exhausting. The effective leader will provide time for their employees to bond socially and work collaboratively with their co-workers. An effective leader will seek to connect with their employees, providing a risk-free workplace where sincere conversations can take place, problems can be addressed, and solutions can be developed. The 21st century school leader will have a genuine interest in their employees, fostering an environment of trust and promoting physical, mental, and emotional health among them. The effective leader will also provide a safe environment where teachers can better understand and connect with their student learners. The success of an effective 21st century school leader will be based on their ability to directly connect not only with their employees but also with the community and stakeholders. They will break down the school walls, expanding their reach and advancing their vision.
E. EMBRACE: Eagerly and affectionately lead the school.
Finally, the effective 21st century leaders will promote a culture that embraces the school and the community. The very fabric of their being will exude the passion of being totally invested in the great things to come. The effective leader will promote all facets of the educational process while seeking to educate the whole child. The effective leader will provide opportunities for the staff and students to be engaged in the school and in the community. Through activities, academics, and athletics the effective leader will reach out to each and every student, promoting a positive and fun school experience. Through the leader's own actions and attitude, they will be an advocate for their school, while totally embracing and advancing the mission and vision for the school.
The leader that can use these simple principles to lead their school and community will be most effective. These leaders will understand that to lead our students into the 21st century, we must lead our teachers into the 21st century armed with the tactics and strategies necessary for the success of those students. It's as simple as doing what mom always told us: Just Be N.I.I.I.C.E.