“Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones!”

~ Mike Dooley

What does learning look like?

On Education...

Vision ~ Educational Philosophy ~ Leadership Practice

Joy. This simple word encompasses the key to any successful, thriving school community. Joy provides for mission-driven and learner-centered schools. It provides for schooling centered around purpose and meaningful work. Joy allows us to achieve the mental state of “flow” coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one. Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost." Flow provides for several key educational goals, including

    • Inquiry and thinking dispositions

    • Clear, attainable goals within the zone of proximal development

    • Intrinsic motivation

    • Immediate, formative feedback

    • Focused, purpose-driven learning

    • Student wellness

The joyful school, in which students can work within their “flow” zones, is achieved with a focus on two key drivers: innovation and compassionate action.

When we commit to innovation, we allow ourselves to focus on the future needs of our children, to make decisions based upon meaning and relevance for students. We build our learning environment around the principles of growth mindset, allowing students to take risks and to fail forward. Innovation allows us to upgrade existing practices and to continually reflect upon our learning environment.

Innovation inspires creativity, collaboration and curiosity within our school communities. It allows us to strengthen our collaborative practices, to develop prototypes, and to develop personalized learner pathways. Innovation allows us the privilege of “moonshot thinking,” which requires us to dream and imagine beyond our current capabilities. Imagine the school where students are assessed on their ability to create our preferred future and to think beyond our current knowledge base.

Innovation takes courage. It requires us to embrace paradigm shifts while keeping our core identity and practices, in order to make future-focused decisions. It requires critical thought as we adopt and discard, ensuring that any innovation strengthens our vision and mission.

The joyful school cannot be achieved without compassion for we are social beings and we cannot thrive without kindness. We do not innovate for the sake of innovation, but rather for the sake of creating our preferred future. A wonderful mentor once said that “peace is born in schools.” It is so simple, and yet, so true. When our school communities focus on our shared humanity and commit to acceptance and inclusion, we will change the world.

Compassionate action extends beyond empathy, service or charity. Whilst all three are important, compassion focuses on action and on kindness in all contexts: self, family, community and globally. Too often, we commit to service but are unkind in our daily lives. The compassionate school is characterized by respect and kindness for all people all of the time.

In all that we do in our schools, we must focus on the student experience. When we adopt a new planning structure, program, or curriculum, we are doing so with the student in mind. How will this impact learning? How will this impact how students and teachers spend their time? To what end are we serving?

Collaboration is key in building a successful school culture, and I am a collaborative leader. In its truest form, collaboration allows us to achieve a deeper understanding and achieve ideas not yet realized. Systems thinking informs my leadership and informs my decision-making processes. I remain committed to the vision and mission of the organization and maintain focus and purpose. Leadership is about providing balance for students and faculty. We are the groundskeepers of the school, who lead systems, culture and learning Seldom is all that we do visible, but we must nurture, prune, feed, water and plant all things in order for the school to thrive.

I am a proud educator. I have devoted my life to education, and I believe in it to the core of my being. Schools are where we impact the future. Where we create the next generation of humanity who will lead the world. It is a fantastic opportunity. It is also a great responsibility. It is our privilege to lead an environment of learners and to serve as learners ourselves. It is our privilege to inspire innovation, to model compassion, and to create an environment of joy and passion whereby all learners, adults and students, are encouraged to reach their individual and collective state of “flow.”

“We do not learn from experience…
we learn from reflecting on experience.”

~ John Dewey