FOCUS (Part3) – Maintaining Focus While in the Public Eye

The life and work of those of us who serve in education is a public one. This is why Character is so vital. School leaders and teachers may not be famous rock stars, athletes, or actors, but we do live out our lives with many other eyes fixed on us and many tongues wagging about us over dinner tables and in coffee shop conversations.

Educators must be adept in many disciplines (e.g. speaking and presentations, technology, research, data analysis, child safety, and much more) while exercising our professions in front of the community; who can be readily critical – expecting levels of excellence in all of those skill sets. A career in education is one of the most challenging. Still, we can point to numerous educators who have demonstrated their ability, effectiveness, competencies, and preparedness to meet this challenge. It is my belief, and the observation and conclusion of many in education, that those most able to meet these challenges are those who are passionate and focused on the recipients of their work – their students.

“Teaching is one of the most difficult human endeavors. Most memorable teachers share one trait: they are truly present in the classroom, deeply engaged with their students and their subject.”[1]

Exemplary teaching, and school leadership, is derived from a keen intellect and confident self-identity; most healthy when grounded in the knowledge of our own value, and a personal integrity that understands all of our actions and words affect everyone who intersects with our lives and work.

Those who dedicate their lives and efforts to education, and discover levels of success, are all trusted specialists. They possess, and constantly seek, greater knowledge in their subject area. That knowledge is not just the details of the particular area of expertise but a deep understanding of teaching theory and philosophy and/or leadership, and an understanding of the students they are working with or the teachers the school administrator is serving/leading.

The most successful and effective of these professionals are not primarily driven by a paycheck or by building a resume for their career. They desire to see the growth of others in body, soul, mind, and spirit. In the words of Roy Edelfelt and Alan Reiman,

“Caring for students excites good teachers, challenges most, and requires all to examine and understand a diversity of student experiences, ethnic traditions, learning styles, and developmental needs. Teachers tend to be altruistic about contributing to the development of the next generation.”[2]

©2017 Toby A. Travis, Ed.D.

[1] Roy Edelfelt and Alan Reiman, Careers in Education (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004), 121-122, Kindle.

[2] Ibid., 238-240, Kindle.

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