When I think about my “moral purpose,” I think about why I became a teacher. I feel that I am like many teachers who join the profession; I want to make a difference for the future (Ryan, 2008). I also believe that “leading with moral purpose means having a commitment to making a difference in the lives and outcomes of students as a result of their experiences at school” (Bezzina, n.d.). My “moral purpose” strategies are high expectations, scaffolding, modeling, honesty, discussion, and differentiation. I have high expectations for my students and sometimes they get frustrated when I ask them do add more details to their drawings or explain how they came up with a math solution. Many of my students have already learned to ask for help without trying and they don’t like when I don’t offer suggestions or solutions. I have a student who is always my first student done with his writing/drawing journal. He does the bare minimum of drawing and he brings it to me to check off. Every day I tell him that I need more details on his picture and every day he wants me to pinpoint which details he should add. It frustrates him that I won’t tell him what to draw so he can draw it and be done. He never gives up, he adds something, brings it back to me, adds something else, brings it back to me, etc. I feel pretty confident in pushing him because I know he wants to finish so he can go to our building/maker centers. I encourage him at each step. I remind him that he is smart and capable. His classmates remind him to be resilient. I always let him go to centers, usually just as others are starting center time.
For many subjects I have to differentiate and scaffold ideas. Many of my students need me to break things down in parts. They need smaller tasks with just one or two items of instruction at a time. Other students are fine with working on their own independently and coming to me if they have questions or problems. I am very honest with my students. We talk about things that are important to them and they know that I will not lie to them. If I tell them that I will do something then I try my best to do it. If I don’t get it done, I apologize and explain why it didn’t get done. If there is something that I can’t discuss with them or am uncomfortable discussing then I tell them. We had a bomb threat on Tuesday and my students were fantastic during the lockdown, relocation, and long wait time for parents to come pick them up. The next day, I answered their questions and we talked about how it made them feel. We had a long discussion about it. We talked about why we thought it happened, what we did well as a class and things we would like to change or do better. The students in my class have a voice and I work to make sure that voice is heard. This also speaks to respect. I respect my students’ opinions, feelings, and thoughts. As Elias (2014) states, “The dignity of each individual is the concern of any leader, and this is preserved by treating all members of the organization with respect and ensuring they treat one-another similarly, regardless of differences.”
I think all of these things support me as their leader. They know they can count on me. They also know that I am not perfect. I make mistakes and I own those mistakes. We are all learning, trying, doing, and being. Some days are easier than others. I am not morally perfect and I have more work to do. As Fullan (2001) writes, “Whatever one’s style, every leader, to be effective, must have and work on improving his or her moral purpose.”
Mentor Progress Report
My mentoring is going well. We hit a few bumps in the road at the beginning that delayed us a bit in starting. First, we couldn’t find a SmartBoard cord that worked, but I was able to “borrow” (with permission) one from an empty classroom. Then, when we hooked up my mentee’s school computer, the SmartBoard software was not installed on it. She has to put in a work order to get it installed. I decided to give her my old personal computer that I was using in my classroom with my SmartBoard so we could begin. It inconveniences me a bit, but I can work around it. I also went into her room in the mornings and helped her set up the computer and SmartBoard. So far, her students love it. She said that she is allowing them to come up and write on the SmartBoard during math. We are on track now and we will be planning for the coming week on Tuesday morning, since we have conferences Monday and Tuesday. She seems genuinely excited to be learning how to use her SmartBoard and I’m very proud of her for sticking with it despite our setbacks in the beginning.
Bezzina, M. (n.d.). Moral purpose and shared leadership. Retrieved October 22, 2015, from Educational Leaders: http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Culture/Attitudes-values-and-ethics/Moral-purpose-and-shared-leadership
Elias, M. (2014, January 4). The Seven Characteristics of a Good Leader. Retrieved October 23, 2015, from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/successful-school-leadership-social-emotional-learning-maurice-elias
Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Ryan, W. (2008). Leadership with a Moral Purpose. Bethel: Crown House Publishing Company, LLC.