According to Robert Evans, the author of The Human Side of School Change, this is an essential question that all leaders must ask themselves. He also suggests that a motto is much more effective than a lengthy mission statement or a long list of goals or values. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, trying to frame what I "stand for" into a motto. So far I have narrowed it down to three:

1. Empowering Students and Teachers to Succeed in the 21st Century!
2. Celebrate the Challenges!
3. Solving the Problem IS the Work!

You can read more about my reasons behind these ideas on my blog. Thanks Sylvia for your suggestion - "Celebrate the Challenge" does sound better.

What do you all stand for? If you could boil it down to a motto, what would it be?

Evans, Robert. The Human Side of School Change. Reform, resistance, and the real-life problems of innovation. Jossey-Bass. 2001. p. 261

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It's interesting how we are challenged by what we've read...When I read "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" by Paulo Friere, I had to change my educational philosophy. If I had to boil my stance down to a motto it would be something like "Mend What's Fractured". Mend - because I don't believe one segment of educational stakeholders alone can fix the problems we've got. Fractured - because there is no clear place where things have gone wrong...

Ruth
Ok, I've been thinking about this question a lot. I almost got a good one in the car on the way to school, but couldn't write it down and my memory is, well, not perfect.

So here's what I'm thinking, as a rough-draft answer to the question:
What do I stand for?

Positive orchestration of the dynamics of a learning community; emphasis on collaboration, creative expression, active-mindset-involvement, harmony.

Thanks for asking such a thought-provoking question, Liz!
The 3Cs:
Collaborate! Communicate! Create!
or
Community! Collaboration! Creativity!

Maybe you could take the music metaphor further... not sure how.

I love your ideas, now we just have to boil them down to their essence.
What is at the core? What is most important to you?

This is fun. Thanks for playing.
-Liz
Yes--I know mine is too wordy but the concept is right. I want to declare a role I play; the role itself is a big part of the mission. It's conductor/player, coach/player. I teach, and then model learning. Usually both at once.

I do hope there's a way to work in the music metaphor.

Beyond that, I want kids working together a lot, learning the skills of collaboration, nurturing and inspiring each other's learning.

I want individuals to feel safe and supported in taking expressive risks and trying things. I want them comfortable with sharing the products of their learning (which could be poems, songs, papers, drawings, stories that they tell, sculptures, skits, research, etc.)

I want learners to be in Carol Dweck's "active mindset" frame of mind as much as possible. Along with this comes the goal that they're self-disciplined, personally responsible and in charge of themselves.

So rather than boiling things down, I'm expanding...does this clarify what I'm talking about? Can you come up with a pithy phrase that'll guide me in knowing what in the world I'm doing?

(A lot of the time class is in this mode: benevolent, happy, chaos! But productive chaos...)

(Having a ning network for my class fits perfectly with this teaching style.)
Set them free! :)

Dan
" prior practice prevents poor performance"
James
I read this Langston Hughes' poem to my students every year on the first day of school. I just like its rhythm and its universal message; some of my former students can still recite it, or at least the last two lines:

Motto
by Langston Hughes

I stay cool, and dig all jive,
That's the way I stay alive.
My motto,
as I live and learn,
is
Dig and be dug
In return
I've worked hard over the years in my position as a tech integrator on many different initiatives. These initiatives often involved everything BUT students! We had laptops for teachers, teacher websites for delivering homework/class materials, streamlining and improving the way we report progress to our families, presentation systems for teachers (I know this affects students, often times positively), etc.

My mission is now students. I want to create as many opportunities as possible for students to use tools in creative, meaningful, and engaging ways. I LOVE the "3 C's" references in this thread: Collaborate, Communicate and Create! This is what I've been working on over the past year or so - and I'm completely committed to this now.! I'm going to borrow the "3 C's" if you don't mind!

~Matt
Please do!
Thanks for giving me the spark to reflect on this........I'm giving a lecture to some high school teachers on Wed. about "Teacher's beliefs" and this helped me get started!

I used to really believe in radical reform and still do but now my attitude is very practical and zen like --- one student at a time. Forget all the groups and dynamics. In the here and now, I try to do what I do best - transfer passion as the fuel of choice for future generations. I always think "am I wasting their time?" and seek out teaching opportunities that allow me not to feel like I'm "wasting their time" . In that way, I change things, one step at a time, one student at a time. Like that story, Make a difference -- flinging back the starfish on the beach. Might not be able to save the million of them but I can make a difference to a few.

Richard Brautigan's poem that I read in teacher's college always stayed with me.

The Memoirs of Jesse James

I remember all those thousands of hours
that I spent in grade school watching the clock,
waiting for recess or lunch or to go home.
Waiting: for anything but school.
My teachers could easily have ridden with Jesse James
for all the time they stole from me.

But your topic brings to mind Dylan's lovely quip -- " he not busy being born (standing for something), is a busy dyin'"

David
EFL Classroom 2.0

PS> found the slideshow!
David, thanks for this thoughtful post--and thanks to all the others on this introspective and thoughtful forum. Liz, you rock! Keep us thinking.
I, too, have a "radical reform" side as well as a practical, Zen-like, here-and-how work with each individual stance. "Transfer passion as the fuel of choice," yes! Don't waste the kids' time with boredom, with asking them to be passive receptacles of "knowledge bits." Get them engaged.
Of note in my professional development is a new view of the larger "units" of learning, seeing the "groups of learning," and the "environment" of learning to be especially important. So I'm more here-and-now about orchestrating the social "feel" of learning, as it is SHARED in the school environment.
Isn't it great to have a professional, idealistic, thoughtful group to share with? How I love CR2.0. Thanks, everyone, for making me think more deeply about everything related to education!

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