Teachers Collaborating/Serving Students

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I want to take the opportunity to thank the Los Gatos and Saratoga communities for welcoming me so openly and warmly. I’ve spent my first six weeks here meeting members of our broad educational community, visiting school sites regularly, and listening intently as I learn about our schools and our collective community. One of the most frequent questions posed to me is, “What is your vision for our school district?” My honest answer to that question is, I don’t know. This is my answer for two reasons: First, I simply don’t yet know the district and community well enough to have an informed and cohesive vision for our future and to believe otherwise seems to me to be the height of arrogance and ignorance. Second, I don’t believe it is my role as Superintendent to impose my vision upon a highly successful school district. Rather, I see my role as a facilitator of a shared vision - my job is to work with the entire community to collaboratively create a shared vision and plan to move us toward that collective vision. Given this, I am spending my time listening, observing, and meeting as many members of our community as I can. Through this process, I gather information, learn about the myriad perspectives in our schools and district, and build the relationships and trust necessary to begin to shape a collective vision and plan for our district. Lest you think I have no vision to offer, I would like to share a little bit about my core beliefs as an educator that inform and drive my work as a leader.

First, I chose education as my profession because I believe in a personal obligation to try to make the world a better place than it was when we entered it. Some choose to fulfill this obligation through volunteer work, others through the way they raise their own children, others through their financial commitments, others through their profession. I choose to work in education because I believe that schools are one of the few places where we have the significant ability to improve our local and global communities by helping to shape intelligent, compassionate, and engaged citizens. In addition to that, it is simply fun and inspiring to work with young people – they exude energy and enthusiasm, make me laugh constantly, and give me enormous belief in and hope for our future.

Second, I very much believe that those of us who work in education, regardless of our role, have an ethical obligation to our students and our community to constantly strive to get better at what we do - not to be perfect - but to avoid complacency and strive to get better. Given this belief, and because improvement does not happen by accident, I work to establish a culture of and systems for continuous growth and improvement. LGSUHSD has much to celebrate and it is important to do so while also constantly asking ourselves, “How do we get better?” I do not believe in change for change’s sake nor do I believe in jumping into every into every innovation fad that comes along. I do believe in and am committed to strategic, evidence-informed change in pursuit of better outcomes for our students - we owe this to them.

Third, I believe that strong personal and professional relationships are at the core of successful leadership. Outstanding tests scores and public accolades are wonderful recognitions for work well done, but these rewards are ultimately less meaningful if they are not the result of strong, positive, and collaborative relationships. Strong relationships yield trust and it this trust that engenders a willingness to take risks and a shared commitment to each other, our students, and our district. Plus, strong relationships make “work” more fun!

Fourth, I believe that the quality of the instruction that takes place in our classrooms is the single most important variable over which we have control – hiring and developing high-quality teachers and supporting effective instructional practice are our top priorities. This focus does not diminish the work of others in the organization who do not serve as classroom teachers - the job of every person in our organization, including me, is to ensure teachers can be and are the best they can be so that our students can also be the best that they can be.

Finally, I believe that one of the primary means by which we ensure high-quality instruction and by which we improve student learning is focused professional collaboration around three deceptively simple questions: 1. How will we know if our students have learned it? 2. What do we want our students to learn (know and be able to do)? 3. What will we do if students do not learn at the level we expect?

When structured appropriately, professional collaboration around these questions is goal-focused, inquiry-based, examines evidence of student learning, is systemic, and ongoing. With this in place, the quality of our instruction, and therefore student learning, improves incrementally and continuously.

I look forward to working with each of you in the coming months and years to support our students in pursuing their dreams.



 

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