ISY Elementary Blog

My Educational Philosophy – August 14th, 2020

Mike Simpson, Elementary School Principal

As I worked alongside our teachers and leadership team to prepare for this school year, I found myself revisiting my educational philosophy.

Educators are often required to draft educational philosophies as part of their professional development. A colleague of mine once pointed out to me that it did not make sense that a principal will routinely share their philosophy with a professor but often not with the people that they serve – their students, faculty, and community.

I agree with my colleague that those who I serve should know what my educational interests and beliefs are. So today I share with you what motivates me as we prepare to begin a school year that will be like no other. It promises to be one that we will all look back on with great pride and a sense of achievement.

I am an optimist and I work hard to make the biggest positive difference I can in the lives of as many people as I can reach.

I believe that all of us have the desire and potential to do great things and I take great pleasure in recognizing and developing this potential in others. To me that is the primary objective of an educator whether they are a classroom teacher or in a leadership position. This objective and the optimistic premise upon which it is based is why I swapped my law office for a classroom.

I do not surrender to pessimism. I see opportunity in instability and uncertainty but I am not a wide-eyed optimist with an unthinking faith in the inevitability of success. I am an optimistic realist with a blend of original ideas, deep convictions, and resilience in the face of change.

Optimistic realism is a combination of truth and hope. Continued improvement depends upon an accurate picture of the present and a vision of what can be achieved in the future. In my experience, this holds true at an individual level and at an organizational level.

As a school leader, just as I did as a teacher and sports coach, I consider it my responsibility to develop and maintain a culture that enables and empowers all within it to reflect honestly upon the present in the context of a shared vision of a better future. This culture is built upon positive relationships which are built on trust.

I build trust through empathy and hard work. I empathize strongly with the people I serve – students, families, and faculty. I care intensely about the work that they do and their aspirations. I am empathetic to what they need and understand that at times this may not necessarily be what they want. This empathy comes from working alongside those that I serve and serving their needs to the best of my ability.

Different people need different support or direction and I take it upon myself to ensure that this is provided. A leadership position gives me a mandate to support or direct in the best interests of students, families, faculty, and their school. However, I believe that the acceptance and implementation of that support or direction depends upon the trust that I have earned. I work very hard each day to earn that trust and my leadership position.

I am very interested in motivational theory. I believe that people are motivated by a shared vision that aligns with their own values and a sense that they are improving and making a positive difference. People that are intrinsically motivated in this way need a degree of autonomy in how they seek to improve and make that difference. From my experience, encouraging and developing autonomy in teachers motivates them to go above and beyond for their students and leads to adaptive, inclusive and innovative practices which teachers can collaborate around.

Students are the ultimate beneficiaries of adaptive, inclusive and innovative teaching practices and the collaborative culture that develops around a shared vision of a bright future is the lasting positive difference that I seek to make at any school that I serve.

Finally, I am very much looking forward to working in the Elementary School and meeting all of the Elementary School parents.  Here’s to a great year ahead.

Mike Simpson

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