Creating A Learner-Centered Leadership Philosophy: Step #1

Building your leadership philosophy

My new book talks a lot about learner-centered leaders developing a leadership philosophy. A leadership philosophy is crucial for any leader who is attempting to institute change into their school. Your philosophy will guide your decision-making process and clarify what is important or not as you work with your staff and community to bring change to your school.

Your learner-centered leadership philosophy is closely tied to your own personal goals in three areas: your career, your school, and your leadership. In fact, I am creating a mini-course that I will release in the next few weeks that helps learner-centered leaders create their own career, school, and leadership goals.

As a sneak peek into the book and the course, I am going to share with you questions that can help build your leadership philosophy. There are a total of 11 questions that help build your leadership philosophy. This blog post discusses the first four.

Question #1: What do you believe about learning?

I believe this is a foundational question for all school leaders to answer. Learning is what the goal of education (and schooling) should be…right? So, dear friend, what does learning mean to you? Here are some questions to help you come up with your answer.

  1. Who is learning for?
  2. How does learning happen?
  3. How do you know if someone has learned something? Define it!
  4. Where does learning happen? Be specific…there may be different answers depending on the situation
  5. How will learners access their learning?
  6. What are the technologies and systems needed to be put in place to assure your vision of learning?

Question #2: What do you believe about teaching?

Feel free to substitute “learning facilitating” for teaching as you answer this question. Many of us know when we see good teaching…it is obvious when you watch a master teacher work their magic with people. The difficult part is trying to explain what you observe when you see good teaching. The challenge is to articulate what you see and distill it into a belief statement. Here are questions to help you along.

  1. What are learners doing when great teaching is happening?
  2. What is a teacher doing when great teaching is happening?
  3. What is the role of the teacher in facilitating learning?
  4. How do you (and the learners and teacher) know they are experiencing great teaching?

Question #3: What do you believe about education?

Education is the system in which learning occurs…it’s not actually learning. Here are some questions to ponder to help you answer the question.

  1. Why do you believe education is important for your learners?
  2. Is there a difference between schooling and education? What are the differences or are they similar?
  3. What assumptions about education are held by you or your school community? Does education have to be “formal”? Does education only happen in a building? Are grades and grade levels necessary? Are textbooks and curriculum synonymous?

Question #4: Why did you get into education?

In other words, what gets you excited about your job? I know there are days when your job as an education leader seems like drudgery…that happens in any profession. But on those days where the day goes quickly and you are energized by work, what are you doing? Getting to your core of why you are a school leader serves as the glue to keep your leadership philosophy together.

These questions are only the beginning. Building your learner-centered leadership philosophy involves more work, which will be discussed in later blog posts.

About Tom Butler, Ph.D.

I believe that public education is for the public good and that education should be uncompromisingly learner-centered. The New Learning Ecosystem points us away from the old model of education that does not serve kids well. All educators regardless of where they work can help lead and contribute to the New Learning Ecosystem.
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3 thoughts on “Creating A Learner-Centered Leadership Philosophy: Step #1

  1. Great post! I like it that each leader has to answer questions about learning and also provide these questions for stakeholders in a learner centered process.

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