Harvard Day 1…

27 Jun

Associate Principal’s log, stardate June 26, 2011…ok, I will write succinctly rather than entertainingly…after all, I am here on an amazing gift! The anticipation and preparation for this trip has been intense. I have to thank the Unity Foundation, Chuck Compton, Dr. Eason Watkins, Mr. Botana, Mr. Francesconi, Mrs. Upp, the School Board, and SO very important to everything successful in my life, my family, and my wife and daughters.

Sunday, 8am.  After arrival and check-in at Longfellow Hall there was an opportunity to mingle with fellow colleagues.  Everyone was eager to begin. There are about 120 Principals and the like in the Institute. There are many from Texas (see the RYHT initiative–we should do this MC!) and many from Florida and many from Illinois. All of which are here on grants from their state. However, everyone is here for the first time!

After the program introduction, the first speaker is a man named Dr. Bill Henderson. Dr. Henderson is a retired principal of a special needs school.  There is nothing interesting about that except, Dr. Henderson became blind while he was an educator. He was told by his doctor and by his associate superintendent to get out of education and to accept disability. Obviously, he didn’t listen.
Jun. 24, 2009 Henderson School: William Henderson, the longtime principal of the Patrick O'Hearn School, cuts a ribbon with successor Patricia Lampron during a June 23, 2009 ceremony in which city leaders announced that the school has been re-named in his honor. Photo by Filipe Miranda

That’s him in 2009. They renamed the school after him! He’s pretty amazing, google him!

He talked about the characteristics of good leaders: Determination, Vision, Sensitivity, Organization, Collaboration, and Humor.  The most important thing he talked about was Inclusion. His second session was about how we MUST include disabled students into every classroom! Those kids need to be with our honors and mid-level kids if we’re ever going to give our disabled kids a chance. Imagine being a doctor or lawyer. Your client walks in and obviously has Down’s Syndrome.  If you’ve never known a person like that, how would you react? We have to expect the best of everyone. The ONLY way to do that is with inclusion. Social exposure for special needs kids is necessary…actually, it’s humane! They are our children, and they deserve an education. We should not lock them in special learning areas. No one can live there forever, and we owe it to our society to educate special needs kids so they are effective citizens…like they want to be.

Whew! Trust me, that’s the REALLY condensed version!

The afternoon session was with Irma Tyler-Wood.  She was amazing! We had to assess our leadership skills in the context of six leadership styles: coercive (I tell you, you do it), authoritative (Here’s our goal, let’s do it), Affiliative (How do you feel about this goal?), Democratic (Let’s make a committee to figure it out), Pace-setting (Look at me work the hardest, why don’t you?), and Coaching (What do you need to be the best?).  Four of the six styles work positively, but none of them alone.  She likens it to golf…there are many shots you’ll have to make, so there are many clubs in which to make them.  Knowing when to use what club is the key.

Irma Tyler-Wood also talked about how each leadership style makes an impact on climate. It was fascinating! Every conflict, requires a different method of dealing with it, but none of that matters if you’re not taking climate into consideration.  The examples here are endless and I have a huge day tomorrow, so I’ll say this…people need six simple things…they need to feel they have flexibility to do what they know is right, responsibility to the goal of the organization, that they uphold  a high level of standards, that they are rewarded fairly and evenly, that their mission is clear, and that there is a commitment to a common purpose.

See? It’s that easy to lead!

For those of you who know me and would rather I be a bit more…cheeky, chime in …otherwise, I need some sleep…Harvard waits for no one! Tomorrow’s session is about leadership under stress…I feel better already…I know where I work, and I LOVE it! They better watch out! I’m ready for my 5am wake-up call!



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