Most, if not all, individuals who have given any thought to the subject believe that students and teachers in today’s public schools deserve better. They deserve the same types of teaching and learning environments that are often found in elite private schools. Teachers in these environments combine the best of essentialist and progressive educational philosophies that cause students to become highly skilled critical thinkers. Teachers, most of them, have the skills to deliver both the science and the art of teaching and learning. The science here represents the wealth of knowledge needed in their particular fields of study and teaching. The art refers to the ability to connect the knowledge their students possess with the information they want them to learn. Students in these environments are active, engaged learners. . . and teachers. Leadership facilitates a process to support these highly interactive teaching and learning environments. Leaders who are most successful in this work demonstrate a commitment to engagement.
To lead with a commitment to engagement means to value every person’s self-identity, their presence, and the gifts they bring to the organization. It means practicing inclusion intentionally. The inclusion of all voices involved in the life of the organization results in levels of synergy where excellence becomes the norm and even higher levels sought. Engaged leaders are personable, hand-on, supportive, facilitating, visionary, inclusive and very successful.
It is the premise of this book that leadership should be focused on serving others in inclusive ways. Leadership should, as a primary task, help to create pathways that empower others to successfully complete the work at hand and to do so including all voices in the process.