Platform Paper

In education, I believe I have
seen it all. I have seen teachers who love what they do and would probably do it
for free. I have seen teachers who, it seems, are punching a time clock and
would not dream of working over forty hours a week. And lastly, I have seen
teachers who undoubtedly must live at the school in which they work because they
never leave the building before dark, no matter what the season. I have made
friends, enemies, partners, and developed friendships with just about every
person I have come into contact with in the field of education. I create
friendships with all teachers because I believe it is in the best interest of
children, and, because I want to make the difference in the life of a child. No
matter what the intent of being in a school setting may be, there should be only
one goal: making the difference in the life of a child. How often is this simple
thought forgotten when it comes to the students learning? As part of the
educational system, my first concern is that of the children. For the first
three years of my career, I have been fortunate enough to work for
administrators who, I feel, had the same beliefs I do, a child-centered
attitude. As they worked, I watched and I learned. I wanted to some day have the
type of climate in my building as they had in their own. And, as I start to
pursue my dream of being a building administrator, I often think I have the same
desires as the wonderful building principals I have worked for. I want to create
an atmosphere that matches theirs a positive place for students to learn,
created by all the stakeholders of the district. PUTTING THE CHILD IN THE CENTER
One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the
child. The first and primary goal I would have as an administrator would be
all to hold the belief that there are no disposable students. Some students may
not learn how or exactly what we want them to, but at the same time, that does
not make them disposable. A large part of our population believes that many
children are not fully educable. Trainable for a job, but not educable for the
duties of citizenship and the things that are essential to a hood human life
(Adler, 1982). Having disposable children is a belief of some teachers because
of how schooling has traditionally been delivered. A change in this thought
process must be met by each and every adult the student comes in contact with
during his or her schooling to ensure both his or her academic and personal
development of every child. There should be one adult advocate for every child
in the school, giving the student the feeling there is someone in his or her
corner. In order for this to occur, students need to be actively involved in the
learning process. The (student-centered learning) environment provides
interactive, complimentary activities that enable students to address their
unique learning interests and needs” (Land, 1996). A major part of
student-centered learning is the empowerment of the student to make choices
concerning their individual learning. This style, in turn, would help students
to feel valued and respected, which would also help with a students
self-esteem. Because of the environment created, students in the building, I
hope, would feel more motivated to be actively involved in their own learning,
and therefore, would be responsible stakeholders in their own education. In this
educational environment, students would build stronger relationships with
students and adults, and hopefully would help provide a sense of community in
the school. WHAT KIND OF PROGRESS IS BEING MADE? Schooling has traditionally
been about people memorizing a lot of stuff that they dont really care too
much about, and the whole approach is quite fragmented (ONeill, 1995).

This is why I believe we lose some students in the educational process. If
students were actively involved, were interested in what was being taught, and
worked cooperatively with other students in a hands-on learning environment,
more students would feel empowered by the opportunities they were given, and,
they would respond in a more positive manner toward the educational process.

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Learning by doing rather than by drill would lead the students to
development, formation, integration, unification, continuity, progression, and
especially growth (Diggins, 1989). Progressivism, which was introduced in the
United States and Europe in the late 19th century, is a collection of beliefs
that opposed traditional schooling, a movement originally led by John Dewey.

This non-traditional system emphasizes concern for the emotional and physical
well-being of the child, (Grollier Multimedia, 1993), rather than the usual
focus on rote memorization. Progressivism would hopefully provide a basic
philosophy for my staff to operate. The first concept within the model would be
for the students working together to problem-solve, and the second would be that
students would have the ability to make a positive contribution to society as
adults. These two concepts tie together to help create a democratic society, one
in which people must work together in order to make a positive societal
contribution. Schooling must prepare all of them for the continuation of
learning in adult life, during their working years and beyond. How? By imparting
to them the skills of learning and giving then the stimulation that will
motivate them to keep their minds actively engaged in learning and provide
guidelines for exploring (Adler, 1982). PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: I feel it
is important for educators to grow professionally, and I believe that one way to
do this is through professional development. If teachers and educators alike are
there to make a difference in the life of a child, there should be no question
as to whether or not professional development opportunities are offered and
participated in. Professional development is a factor in the reformation of our
school system, both for the teacher and students. Professional development,
in contributing to the advancement of school improvement is evident in several
state and national reports, as well as in research reports on school
restructuring initiatives (Abdal-Haqq, Ismat, 1996). Many times, teachers get
lost in the box. Teachers are afraid of two things: change, and thinking
outside the box. It is quite simple to get by as an educator, considering
all the ready-made curriculums, workbooks, and teacher guides. But, how creative
and innovative is this approach, and even more importantly, how much does this
type of teacher challenge the students? Answering this question honestly
would help many teachers see the value in attending professional workshops, in
developmental seminars, and even in taking more college credits. If teachers are
afraid to think on their own, how can they expect their students to think on
their own? As principal, I would instill in teachers of the building I work the
importance of professional development. I feel Adler gave excellent insight to
professional development in his book The Paideida Proposal An Educational
Manifesto by saying, All skills of teaching are intellectual skills that can
be developed only by coaching, not by lecture courses that are required for
certification (Adler, 1982) LEADERSHIP STYLE: As was previously stated, I
want the building in which I am an administrator to be one with a publicized
vision of the child-first attitude. In order to achieve this, I believe the
administration must remove the thought of a top-down model of leadership where
what the principal says, goes. If administration is to create a
child-centered atmosphere, the principals must work to achieve consensus from
stakeholders about the schools vision, but they must also intervene with
those who hold values inconsistent with commonly shared goals. In other words,
the administration must have everyone who is a stakeholder on its side by being
less direct and more collaborative. Sergiovanni, in his book Building Community
in Schools, states, Relationships are based on shared values rather than
bureaucratic roles, resulting in individuals who care, listen, understand,
respect others and are honest, open and sensitive (1994). This type of
leadership is considered to be facilitative and is defined as, the behaviors
that enhance the collective ability of a school to adapt, solve problems, and
improve performance (Conley, Goldman, 1994). But instead of just saying,
This is the way it is going to be, principals are able to invite followers
to commit effort to the common cause. This type of leadership offers teachers a
daily opportunity to bring the vision of the school to life. As I continue to
pursue my first professional goal, I believe deep down I have a passion for
student success, both in the classroom and outside. I will create a climate that
is in the best interest of the children and I will continually ask myself and
those around me, Is it good for the children? This question in itself will
help to keep this deep-burning passion alive in my heart.