Leadership Skills and Implementation

Educational Leadership: Working for a Cure

By Dana Barbarick

I was recently hospitalized for five days. Five LONG days! It was a troublesome time in a number of ways, but one thing about a hospital room is that long days of nothing but nurses, bed, and walks around the floor leave a person with time to think. Granted, I was thinking through the cloudiness that comes with pain killers and anti nausea drugs, but thinking nonetheless.

As I lay there, it struck me that education is in much the same state that I was. Sick. Finances, or actually lack of finances, have led to budget cuts, layoffs, larger class sizes, reduced resources and much discouragement.

Education is in a hospital room of sorts. We, the educators, are the nurses trying all kinds of remedies to make everything better but we don’t know exactly how to cure the problems so we keep the pain killer coming to mask the symptoms.

The doctors, or lawmakers in this case, look at the problem, analyze it, compare it to previous cases, diagnose the problem, but they aren’t sure how to fix it either. They know that spending cuts are not the answer. They know that a class size of 30+ first graders is not ideal. They know that lack of support for English language learners is not ideal. They may even realize that the more testing to identify achievement gaps is not going to fix the gaps. So we all do the best we can with what we have and hope for the best possible outcome for our students. Right?

Right. And wrong. We are the leaders in our realm. Budget cuts are inevitable and we need to rise up with creative solutions. It is easy to sit back and make it someone else’s problem when the reality is that we, as educational leaders, must be the voice for change.

Whether the change come through new funding sources, new ideas in teacher education, new strategies for closing the achievement gap, or new ways to reach and teach the children in our own classrooms, we cannot sit idly by and hope that someone else will be the difference. Let’s work together to find a cure.

Some suggested places to begin:

  • Action Research in your own classroom
  • Write to your legislators.
  • Read and research what is working in other schools.
  • Be the positive voice of change in your building.

We can lie on the bed, be crippled by fear, and feel sorry for ourselves or we can get up and begin searching for the cure. Which educational leader would you rather be?

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