As a superintendent, I believe that most people in this role, including myself, were taught the wrong way to lead. It is mostly about the language we use. It is antiquated and unable to meet the requirements of the complex world we live in. The language and leadership didn’t feel right to me, so I set out on a personal mission to make it better. Early in my career, I focused on success because I was told that’s what we are supposed to focus on—student achievement, scores, attendance, those types of things. After working to meet these benchmarks over the years, I had a breakthrough: I’m not here for a life of success, I am here for a life of significance.
In order to create the greatest opportunity for my students here at Victoria ISD in Texas, I choose to focus on what each individual brings to the table because every single student and staff member in my district has something unique to offer. I believe everyone has a unique genius they bring into the world, so I actively try to help students and staff find and pursue their unique genius. When I say “one size fits,” almost everybody is thinking “all,” but I believe the opposite. In education, and in life, one size fits one.
The past year has been particularly tough for educators and students, but I remain happy and hopeful—and I strive to instill happiness and hope in my students as well. One phrase I’ve heard used throughout the pandemic is learning loss, and I don’t agree with that idea. There’s no loss here, it’s simply unfinished learning. I’ve never actually met anyone who lost an education, but they may have some unfinished learning left to do.
When educators shift their focus from a loss to unfinished learning, there’s an opportunity to create a plan to help students progress in their education. Further, let’s all agree to stop saying we are behind because of the pandemic. Behind what, exactly? We are exactly where we are. If we arbitrarily describe ourselves as behind some fictitious place we might have been, will we ever catch up? No, we can’t. I do not want to be responsible for growing a generation of kids who feel they are permanently behind. Our language matters, and so does our leadership.
I recently sat down with Gaggle’s Vice President of Sales, Bill McCullough, to discuss leadership, hope, my personal philosophy, and how we’re moving forward as a district. If you’d like to learn more about what we’re doing here at Victoria ISD, be sure to check out my “One Size Fits One” podcast with Gaggle.