I also know that DC Public schools have the single visionary focus of making sure its students have equal access to quality education, which means that all supporting systems point the way to creating an open, fair and nurturing learning environment. The leadership quality that I have is my elevated level of high expectations; because at the end of the day, those whom you lead will only do what they think you think they are capable of. I once had a pipedream or idealistic goal to bring in nothing the highest quality teachers under a set of criteria that was meant to eliminate those who were uncommitted to the children’ s futures or were just there to pass the time until a more lucrative career could be found.
The plan was to weed out those who were not dedicated to teaching by asking more structured interview questions, such as what is your philosophy of teaching or how do you encourage creativity or what would you do in the case of a student who refuses to participate in class or in timely homework assignments, if at all.
This goal was not reached because there were many factors to consider, such as teacher stress, burnout, those coming up for retirement who were simply whistling their way to the finish line, classic life interruptions… the kinds of things that can easily turn a very qualified teacher into a basket-case. I learned that while there is no such thing as the “ perfect” teacher, there is such a thing as contingency planning for those moments when all of the major hopes for the future to turn into dust.
I decided that an adjustment was needed in my leadership style to fill in the gaps where the measure of quality is only as good as the teachers willing to serve. Some may read that as a lowering of standards to accommodate what was available. I simply changed the criteria to allow for shortcomings that did not quite meet my perfectionist standards. I did not lower the bar on quality control, but I did make some price adjustments in the contingency plan to take up slack.
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