Hey, I am Dr. Tom Miller and I have a big idea to share.
I believe that everything needs to fight for its life to get on your agenda. Here is what I mean.
I remember when I was a principal, just coming back from spring break, spending the last week reflecting and analyzing where we needed to go over the next 90 days to be fully prepared for the next school year.
I would share these ideas with my team and instead of them showing excitement for a new idea they would think...oh no, that's one more thing! When will we find the time to do that? How will we do that? How will this impact ME?
Like many school leaders, I struggled from "shiny object" syndrome. I love to learn about what is working in other schools and tinker with strategies. The more I learned, the more I put on my team, without taking anything away.
My inability to prioritize, isolate, and focus on the most vital, game-changing actions that ensure significant improvement in teaching and...
My journey into public charter schools, and learning about the characteristics of effective schools, began in 2008 when I was an Exceptional Children’s teacher. I later became the director of a rural charter middle school in Brunswick County at Charter Day School. It was during this time that my “leadership lid” was lifted as I spent time in five high performing K-8 public charter schools in North Carolina during my dissertation study, The Characteristics of Effective K-8 Charter Schools in North Carolina. The leaders and community stakeholders from the schools that I served as a Principal, have helped shape my understanding of what makes an effective school. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, this week is National School Choice Week. As we celebrate National School Choice Week, let’s also discuss five characteristics of effective charter schools.
On a walk last summer, I crossed a bridge built over a slow-moving creek and spied a snake slipping through the water. As a mother of three boys, I instinctively wanted to point it out to them and start guessing what kind of snake it was. Alas, my teenage boys were at work or gymnastics practice. They were missing out on my moment with the snake, and I wanted to share this sighting. Just up the path, I saw a dad with two toddler sons coming my way. I was thrilled to have someone to share this moment with.
When the dad was within earshot, I said, “Your boys might like to see the snake in the water back there.” The man looked right past me and kept walking. I carried on toward my house, not bothering to repeat myself. However, in just a few steps, I heard the dad say, “Hey boys! There’s that snake the nice lady told us about.” The boys squealed, and I smiled, knowing that I’d opened up their world just a little bit that day.
Leading through change is what separates the good from the great. Right now, thousands of school leaders across the nation are saying, “I cannot wait until next year. Next year will be different.”
My question to them is, “How do you know?”
When leading through change, it is all right for leaders to be uncertain about their process to get there, but it is not all right for leaders to be unclear about their overall vision. It is in time of change when people need their leaders the most. When people lack hope, the leader needs to provide hope. When people lack answers, the leader needs to have a vision and clearly communicate that vision.
A time of uncertainty is the hardest time to lead. Most people tend to freeze when the future is uncertain; unfortunately, this is when many leaders decide to take a step back rather than being at the forefront. When I was a principal, in times of change or adversity, I did not want to have to answer everyone’s questions...