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My Philosophy of Educational Leadership

--

Presented to the Department of Educational Leadership


and Postsecondary Education
University of Northern Iowa
-In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the
Master of Arts in Education or Advanced Studies Certificate
-by
Casey Kettmann
Resurrection Elementary
Dubuque, IA
(November 10, 2014)
-Dr. Nicholas Pace

Many people have numerous ideas on educational leadership. We all have our strengths when
it comes to educational leadership. As an educational leader I want to be able to use my strengths
to help my school the best that I can. Along with that, I feel that educational leaders ignore their

weaknesses at times. We should try to focus on our weaknesses in order to become better
educational leaders. The five key ideas I want to focus on are instructional leadership,
relationship building, positivity, and motivation, and management.
The first key idea is instructional leadership. It is more important today than it ever has been.
Principals need to be out in the classrooms watching and helping teachers grow to be the best
educators they can be. Evaluations from the past have been more of a checklist that put value on
discrete lists of best practices. Brookhart and Moss (2013) stated, Traditional walk-throughs
suggest the existence of a foolproof recipe of best practices that raise student achievement
regardless of the content, the context, or the students in question (p.44). As we do walkthroughs we should be focusing on what the students are saying, asking, and doing. This will
help us guide the teachers in crafting their skill.
Brookhart and Moss (2013) go on to say, Formative walk-throughs build an atmosphere and
support for all learners-the principals, the teachers, and the students (p.45). Educational leaders
need to be out in the classrooms as much as they possibly can.
The second key component of my philosophy of educational leadership is building
relationships, which I feel is a personal strength of mine. Being able to develop a strong rapport
with students, staff, and parents is pivotal. According to Goodwin (2013), Principals success,
job satisfaction, and willingness to see the job through appear to hinge on their people skills,
which enable them to create a cohesive school culture and work with teachers to chart a course
of improvement (p.80). If students, staff, and parents dont respect or connect with me, it is
going to make the job of the principal that much harder. This connects directly to the Iowa
Standards for School Leaders #4.

Being able to make those connections with people can start principals down the path to
success. Robbins and Alvy (2014) said, Take time to look at people; smile, respond, laugh
(p.67). This is so important in building those relationships with people. Stakeholders need to
know that I am human and can interact with them. Laughter can help make people more
comfortable with me and can start me down the path of developing good rapport. Research by
Marzano, Waters, and McNulty (2005) supports that relationships are one of the 21
responsibilities of school leaders. As leaders using those relationships to help foster growth is
easy and essential to success of a school.
Positivity is the third area that fits in with my philosophy of educational leadership. Joel
Osteen said, You're going to go through tough times - that's life. But I say, 'Nothing happens to
you, it happens for you.' See the positive in negative events (Vergara, 2012). I try to live by this
saying. We all know that tough times will happen, but as principal I will try to turn those tough
times into positive times. I always look at every situation as though the glass is half full rather
than half empty. Being pessimistic is not an option in my opinion and being pessimistic only
hurts your chance for growth. Whitaker (2012) said, The principal who sets a positive tone can
influence the interactions of everyone in the school (p.31). I agree 100% with this statement and
intend to do this as principal.
Another way to look at my third key idea of positivity is being an optimizer. Marzano,
Waters, and McNulty (2005) said, The responsibility of optimizer refers to the extent in which
the leader inspires others and is the driving force when implementing a challenging innovation
(p.56). I want my staff to see me as a positive leader. The reason for this is so that in times when
my staff is not in agreement with me, then they can use my example from past experiences to
look at the positive of the situation. They may initially not agree with me, but if they can look at

it through the lens of optimism, then they hopefully are more likely to accept it and get the most
out of it.
The fourth key component my philosophy of educational leadership is motivation. As a coach
I use motivation all the time to help my players work harder and improve at the sport. As a
teacher I challenge my students to give their best effort and work hard every day to become the
best student they can be. As a leader I want to motivate all my stakeholders to do the best they
can do at whatever they are doing.
According to Bouffard and Savitz-Romer (2012), motivation is not a binary beliefsomething that students either have or dont have. Motivation is a cyclical process involving the
kinds of goals people set, the reasons they set them, and the actions they take to achieve them
(p.42). Motivation connects directly to ISSL #2. Motivation can really help students reach their
full potential. Bouffard and Savitz-Romer (2012) affirm that by saying, Create opportunities for
student to build skills in a range of areas (p.42).
No matter what profession a person is in, motivational is a key component to success. It is
equally important to motivate all of the stakeholders. Each of them is an important component of
the big picture. While I may motivate a student one way, someone else may motivate a teacher
anther way and a parent yet another. This correlates with situational awareness. According to
Marzano, Waters, and McNulty (2005) situational awareness is one of the 21 responsibilities of
the school leader. Situational awareness covers a lot of different situations and scenarios. By
knowing the situation and using what I know about how to motivate each individual stakeholder
will help get the most out of them. Whitaker (2012) said, Authentic praise is a powerful
reinforcement and motivator (p.30). Using praise as a motivator can really make people feel
wanted and more willing to work hard for me.

A final strength of mine is management. It can swallow a principal whole if he or she is not
careful. Management can be all that I will get done some days; I think that it is very important
that as principal I am good with management. This can be anything from disciplining a student,
having a gas leak, or a sick teacher leaving.
According to Reeves (2002), If an educational leader fails to use time wisely, in a manner
that is relentlessly focused on improved student achievement and implementation of academic
standards, then a thousand other task intrude (p.143). In order to be successful with
management a principal must be willing to learn to prioritize. Reeves (2002) also said,
Articulating standards, coordinating standards, assessing standards, leading on standards, and
every other achievement requires an investment of time (p.153). Ultimately we need to have
student achievement and that starts with solid management from the principal.
A leader that inspires me is my dad. He is a high school girls basketball coach. He knows
how to develop relationships, be positive, and motivate his players. He has had much success
using these techniques. He is well respected and many people have told me what a great coach he
is. What he does on the basketball court is what I want to do in my school. I want everyone to
respect me and know that I am doing my very best to help the most stakeholders that I can. I
want my philosophy of educational leadership to define who I am.
I have chosen to pursue educational leadership for a few reasons. The number one reason is
because I think I can make the most difference as a principal. While I impact my students lives
every day, as principal I will impact all stakeholders lives every day. Another reason I am
becoming an educational leader is because I want to use all my strengths to help education
become better than it is. We have a strong educational system right now, but using my strengths
can help my school become even stronger, and hopefully other schools get stronger as well.

In conclusion instructional leadership, relationship building, positivity, motivation, and


management are the most important components of my philosophy of educational leadership.
They are all connected to each other in one way or another. Some days I will use instructional
leadership more, others motivation, and more positivity other days. Using additional
management and rapport on days will happen as well. I see these as the building blocks to
becoming a successful principal. While these components fit my personality and philosophy,
they may fit differently with someone elses. Life coach Tony Robbins said, Stay committed to
your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach (Meier, 2014). As an educational leader we
need to continue to learn to adapt and learn just as we ask our students, teachers, and parents to
do. While we adapt and learn we also need to keep what is important to us in our lives.
Developing a rapport, positivity, management, and motivation will help guide me to become the
best principal that I can be. These components are essential to my philosophy of educational
leadership and will have an impact on me each and every day of my life.

References
Bouffard, S., & Savitz-Romer, M. (2012, April 1). Ready, willing, and able. College, careers,

citizenship, 40-43
Brookhart, S., & Moss, C. (2013, April 1). A new view of walk-throughs. The
principalship, 42-45.
Goodwin, B. (2013, April 1). A principal's success requires people skills. The principalship,
79-80.
Meier, JD. If it's not working, change your approach.
http://sourcesofinsight.com/if-its-not-working-change-your-approach/
Marzano, R., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. (2005). School leadership that works from research to
results. Alexandria, Va.: McRel.
Reeves, D. (2002). The daily disciplines of leadership. San Franciso, Ca: Josey-Bass.
Robbins, P., & Alvy, H. (2014). The principal's companion: strategies to lead schools for
student and teacher success (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Vergara, J. (n.d.). 10 Joel Osteen quotes to help you succeed in life - Mamiverse.
http://mamiverse.com/joel-osteen-quotes-success-49707/
Whitaker, T. (2012). What great principals do differently: Eighteen things that matter most (2nd
ed.). Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.