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Intentional Leaders: Excellence Must Be Internalized

09 Nov

Monthly Theme: Excellence

Week 2

This week I was to view how I can facilitate a culture of excellence in my workplace, look at our current organization values, describe what excellence looks like and how to further a commitment to excellence.

“…leaders display a passion for the possibilities of a better, brighter, more productive future….passion and dissatisfaction drive a leader to excel.” (Intentional Leader, p.41)

I must admit, the term excellence sometimes is used so easily in the world of education. I have read countless visions and missions all with the word “excellence” embedded in them. I also have wondered what truly excellence means in each of their contexts. Do the schools or school divisions have great stories to tell of the ways that excellence in learning has occurred around them? For me, it’s a drive to always want to make learning and leading better, more effective and more….(yes, I’m going to say it)….excellent. Take, for example the Disney story where animators on the first ever animated plus real-time video movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, were reviewing a particular scene that wasn’t quite right. In the scene the character bumps his head on a lamp which then swings but originally no shadows were displayed. Most audience members would have not caught on to the missing shadows, yet animators were relentless in spending many hours to fix the error. The nickname for excellence in Disney animation became “Bump the Lamp”. (To the see the actual scene, click HERE.)

We can use the phrase, “Bump the Lamp”, to remind ourselves to aim for excellence. Most people won’t notice the excellent part of what we do, but certainly some will and those people will share their experiences to others.

Some examples of “Lamp Bumpers” in PSD:

  • The teacher who writes notes in students’ journals or blogs.
  • The administrators who find time in the school timetable for teachers to meet in order to plan more effective learning opportunities or PD for teachers.
  • The sharing of a good learning experience with a large audience (tweeting about a school event, blogging about daily learning, sharing a story in the school newsletter, inviting divisional employees to school activities).
  • The administrator who believes in arranging the learning environment in a new way with no grade levels for all students to benefit.
  • The teachers that engage students digitally and model ethical online practices.
  • The facilitators who not only offer professional learning opportunities but also teachable moments during their sessions.

Our organization values are:

  • Collaboration and engagement with students, parents and our communities. Our successes are not possible without these contributions.
  • Trust and mutual respect among all of our education stakeholders.
  • Inclusion and diversity within our schools.
  • Citizenship and recognize our central role in guiding students to understand their responsibilities and their place in the world.
  • Leadership in all places – everyone in our Division has the potential to be a leader.
  • Excellence, innovation and risk-taking.

As one can see above, PSD incorporates “excellence” as one of our values. I believe that we need to share more “excellence” stories so that we can see the experiences and influence this has within our organization. I am thankful to have a Communications Director who is now starting to share these stories on our division website.

What does excellence look like in my role? I hope that my ability to ensure that teachers and administrators questions and support opportunities are allowing their staff and students to move forward in their learning environments. I also hope that my own PD, committee work and networking is allowing further connection to the latest research and resources for PSD staff to tap into.

Excellence is not achieved overnight, it is a journey and it takes time to deeply internalize it. Take time to view this video on Everyday Leadership.

Drew Dudley will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming ATLE (Alberta Technology Leaders in Education) Convergence Conference in Edmonton.

I leave you with this….what does excellence look like in your role? In your organization? What are some ways you can encourage your team to further its commitment to excellence?

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