At a time when the world has seemed to stand still, I feel like I have been flying through time. What a moment in history, to start this new chapter in my life. I can’t believe it has already been six months participating in this program - I’ve learned so much that it’s made me realize that I still have a lot to learn. I remember being excited and nervous as we began back in July. I’m still excited and nervous but for different reasons.
My greatest realization was that getting to know myself will help me identify what type of leader I am. The personality tests we took gave me insight on my strengths and what needed improvement. My “melon” abilities will help me find solutions as a leader but will also challenge me when I am being criticized. Although, I prefer working alone, I came to the realization that an efficient and effective school program is like a machine - it needs many working parts to function and move forward. I cannot do it alone.
Collaboration is key to a school’s success in all of the three pillars. We need to pray together and grow in our faith, we need to collectively work towards student success, and we need to ensure the sustainability of the school by offering a quality program while maintaining the resources and finances. I’ve discovered that the ADLA system has resources in place to help leaders in faith, excellence, and stewardship. My mentor principal has opened my eyes to the importance of cultivating working relationships with the parish, donors, and the community around the school. Fostering these relationships contributes to the culture of “we are all in this together.”
Once a solid school culture has been established, complete with common values, established norms, and objectives, this machine starts to inch forward towards achieving goals. We also need to ensure that our values align with the larger mission of the Church. Not only are we responsible for academic growth of our community but also the spiritual growth as well.
As a leader, my job includes wearing a data analysis hat and giving teachers an opportunity to look at and study the data available to us. Data about student learning and student backgrounds should inform our decisions regarding next steps. As a leader, I need to create a culture where teacher sharing is common and expected so that the whole team can work together to find solutions. I will continue to build capacity and a trust-worthy environment where we can truly become agents of change. I will utilize the six-step feedback protocol to help teachers reflect on their practices and choose what their own next steps will be to improve student learning.
In juggling the many roles of a leader, I will need to prioritize those tasks that align with the school mission and goals. Managing my time will be a daily activity. I need to learn what I have to accomplish and what I can delegate. I will ask myself, why and what before deciding to tackle a task. Planning is going to be crucial.
Once this delicate balance of collaboration, establishing common values and goals, and the drive to push forward is achieved, the school community will be able to thrive and grow. This internal coherence will lay the foundation for achievement in the three pillars of the ADLA: Faith, Excellence, and Stewardship.
“Leaders become great not because of their power but because of their ability to empower others.” - John Maxwell
Thoughts by Miriam Rojas
Onward Leaders Principal Resident Program