I just finished reading The Learning Leader, by Douglas R. Reeves, as a part of my doctoral studies. I found the book to be
extremely well written, as well as extremely valuable for anyone looking
to gain a more in-depth understanding of school improvement.

As districts and schools look to both district and building leaders, it
is difficult not to notice the "Islands of Excellence," as well as the
islands of weakness within our districts and buildings. We all know
where the "Islands of Excellence" are, and we all know which educators
are on the "Islands of Excellence." On the flip side, we also know
where and who are on the islands of weakness. The difficult task as
district and building leaders is to identify ways to expand the "Islands
of Excellence," while simultaneously shrinking the islands of weakness.

When speaking with district and building leaders the most difficult part
of expanding the "Islands of Excellence" always comes back to
exposure. We all know that when we see great things happening, our
first response is to share and spread the good word. This can have both
positive and negative effects on a district and building staff. On the
positive side, sharing and collaborating with other educators is
probably the most beneficial way to improve both a district and
building. You would be hard pressed to find a more effective and
powerful means to school improvement that does not center around sharing
and collaboration.

On the negative side, when an "Island of Excellence" gets too much
exposure and attention, there will be educators who will form an
alliance against this island purely because they feel threatened or left
out. At times we have to resist the urge to share ALL the success
stories of the "Islands of Excellence," even though we do this with the
best intentions. District and building leaders have difficult jobs, and
this is just one more example of the realities we see in our districts
and buildings.


So, whether you are a teacher, a building level administrator, or a
district level administrator...take some time to reflect upon how you
treat and handle your "Islands of Excellence" and your weak islands.
Additionally, think about which island you are on. If you are on an
"Island of Excellence," then consider some ways to attract some new
members who could increase the size of your island, or even perhaps
start their own "Island of Excellence." I believe 100% in
self-reflection, and consequently if you think you could possibly be a
member of a not so excellent island, then perhaps it is time to take a
swim, and expand your horizons. There is one thing I can
guarantee...any "Island of Excellence" would be more than happy to
accept you as its newest member...as long as you show you are willing to
turn from the dark side!

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Tags: and, development, educational, growth, improvement, interconnectedness, leadership, school, teacher, teamwork

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