Friday, August 10, 2012

Professionalism, Patience, and Persistence

As I reflected on my role as a principal throughout this summer, I thought about how I could concisely summarize my approach to school leadership to quickly and simply convey my style to others. I felt compelled to do this for a variety of reasons, but primarily because of the changes that have occurred in my professional and personal lives over the past year. The more I thought about this, the more I convinced myself of the importance of being able to deliver an elevator pitch to accurately reflect what I value as a school leader, as well as an individual, to improve learning for all. So, I've come up with a three word phrase that certainly conveys what I value and expect from others as we guide our students, children, and colleagues to improve their learning: Professionalism, Patience, and Persistence.

My experiences at all levels and roles in public education, my graduate education at Rutgers University, professional and personal relationships, and professional reads have influenced me to value each word in this phrase. Although professionalism, patience, and persistence are intertwined, I'll briefly explain why each word is such an important component of my leadership style.

I take pride in looking to the evidence to guide my leadership practice, so much so that it's incorporated into the title of my blog. The school administration/leadership literature contains a wealth of evidence to suggest that professionalism is paramount for schools to achieve at high levels. I've previously posted about the importance of professionalism in schools, which you can read herehere, and here. I believe that when you treat people like professionals, you provide them with opportunities to do great things.

This is something that I continue to develop throughout my life and career, as I suspect most of us do. I've thought more about improving my patience in all areas of my life since watching this video several years ago. I don't know how my own children, colleagues, or friends perceive my degree of patience, but as a school leader, I think it's important to be patient with faculty, staff, and students. I believe that when you are patient with your school community members, you're letting them know that you trust them to get the job done.

The work of Carol Dweck and her colleagues supports the value of embracing the growth mindset for future success, and I've learned from reading some of this work that persistence seems to be key to this mindset. I encourage all educators to read some of Dweck's work. To me, persistence is reflective of one's work ethic, and our schools deserve nothing less than individuals who are willing to do whatever it takes to improve learning for all. Exceptional educators are persistent in learning, leading, and encouraging others to embrace and develop the growth mindset.

This summary of my leadership style has allowed me to develop a better sense of what I value in myself and others as we work to improve learning for all. I encourage your feedback and thoughts on this post to help me continue to develop my school leadership elevator pitch.


  1. It seems like patience and persistence need to complement one another.

    Patience without persistence leaves students with gaps in their learning.

    Persistence without patience leaves students with a bad taste about learning.

    Good reminders!
    Janet |

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Janet. You are correct, patience and persistence do complement each other. In fact, I believe all three of these components are intertwined. It's important for me to remember the big picture and the results from embracing this summary of my leadership style. Treat people like professionals, be patient with them, and lead them to persist so all continue to learn.