“What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of our children.”
My experiences at all levels of the educational system have been vast and varied, but I’ve found that one thing remains constant regardless of role or place:
Every educational system is made up of people.
If we take care of our people, the people will take care of our students.
EVERY MEMBER OF A COLLABORATIVE EDUCATIONAL COMMUNITY CAN ACT AS A LEADER, DRAMATICALLY IMPACTING THE QUALITY OF RELATIONSHIPS, CULTURE, AND STUDENT LEARNING.
Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) is the county’s 3rd largest employer with over 25,000 employees. While our mission as a local education agency is always curricular, it is also interpersonal and political. “Education should function to change outcomes for whole communities. And if we are serious about community building, we must invest regularly and wholly in the people, the relationships, and the mechanisms that form the community. It takes time and serious imagination to learn to do that” (Minor, 2019). Employees, students and families of the district are each an integral part of the culture and well-being of our community. How they see themselves, their professions, and how they are valued as members of this learning community is a big part of the success and vibrancy of Hillsborough County. When we think and act in ways that invest in our people first, and programs second, we are ensuring that the driving force of our district can continue to do the important, hard work of educating children.
NOTHING MATTERS MORE TO THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN THAN THE TEACHER STANDING IN FRONT OF THEM.
Investing in teachers monetarily, professionally, and supportively, will yield unlimited returns to children’s learning. Programs and policies, by themselves, do not improve teaching. Improved teaching comes about by sound teaching practices and a thorough understanding of the subject matter and how to teach it, including understanding student thinking and behaviors. Investing in teachers through ongoing professional development, pay that allows them to feel secure and valued in their profession, and in-classroom coaching support leads to teachers who can do the hard work of becoming a better educator each day. Teaching is not for the faint-hearted. It requires persistence, determination, knowledge, and intellectual curiosity. “Strictly speaking, the practice of improvement is the sharing of a set of proven practices and their collective deployment for a common end. It is not the property of any one individual or any incumbent in any specific job. It is not the property of teachers or administrators or professional developers. It is a common set of practices shared across the profession.” (Elmore, p. 103)