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Start. Right. Now. Teach and Lead for Excellence by Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas

Wednesday, September 20, 2017  
Posted by: Christina Mimms
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Reviewed by Sarah Barton Thomas, Middle School Director at The Montgomery Academy, Montgomery, AL

There is so much wisdom packed into the 212 pages of Start.Right.Now Teach and Lead for Excellence that it is hard to summarize it all or to capture it in a few short paragraphs. Todd Whitaker, Jeffrey Zoul, and Jimmy Casas share their perspective of what it means to be an excellent teacher and leader. It is broken down into four parts: Know the Way, Show the Way, Go the Way, and Grow Each Day. Teachers and Leaders pursue excellence by demonstrating each of these four characteristics in all elements of their daily life and work.

Excellent teachers and leaders Know the Way by becoming masters of their craft. They regularly answer the question of “why do we exist as a school” as they demonstrate their prowess of effective teaching and leadership skills, content material, identifying plans for growth, developing priorities, and showing confidence as they teach and lead. They know what is best for kids and establish a vision and mission to lead every person to success. Excellent teachers and leaders know themselves and build practices and habits that provide for their ultimate efficiency and effectiveness. They seek feedback from their constituents, including students, and learn broadly to improve in all areas of practice. The best educators put people first, realizing they teach children not subjects, and encourage innovation and creativity in their own practice as well as that of others.

Excellent teachers and leaders Show the Way by serving as the visionaries-in-chief for the outcomes they desire in their classroom or school. They help build a common language of values, model collaboration, and celebrate successes with their teams. These teachers and leaders do not wait for excellence to come to them, they pursue it proactively with measured steps to learn and grow. They are consistent lifelong learners.

Excellent teachers and leaders Go the Way and model what they expect from their students and faculty. They realize that what they do is far more important than what they say, and they set high expectations for themselves and others. These teachers and leaders work diligently to communicate their vision effectively and build strong, trusting relationships with their followers. They move beyond congenial relationships within the schoolhouse and focus on collegial relationships. Within this context, they have courageous conversations to address issues of poor performance.

Excellent teachers and leaders Grow Each Day and regularly participate in both personal and professional development. They use a variety of mechanisms, including social media to develop a personal and professional learning network where they learn and contribute to the learning within a global set of peers. They possess a growth mindset for themselves and others and encourage growth and innovative learning practices. Sometimes this means shifting perspective based on new knowledge.

Excellent teachers and leaders keep children at the center of all they do. They realize that we are in the business of changing lives through education. These adults feel, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “a fierce urgency of now” to be outstanding models to teaching, learning, communication, collaboration, and character.

What are the implications of Knowing the Way, Showing the Way, Going the Way and Growing Each Day within our current contexts? We are independent schools in constant pursuit of excellence. We, as school leaders, both on the campus and within the classroom, set the tone for high expectations. We must work together both on campus, in community, and across the globe to hold one another accountable to this pursuit.

At The Montgomery Academy, we live our mission statement through our daily interactions within the community, our commitment to excellence in the classroom, stage, and field, and in our dedication to professional development. As we prepare leaders, we model the way in all aspects of life. We cannot wait to know, show, go, and grow; we simply must start right now.






Sarah Barton Thomas is Middle School Director at The Montgomery Academy in Montgomery, AL. Follow her on Twitter @teach2connect.

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