A comprehensive induction program for new support staff employees is a part of our district’s overall planning process. It aligns with our district’s direction and purpose, helping employees gain confidence and feel a sense of belonging. The goal is to keep them motivated so our students reap the benefits. By investing in our existing employees and beefing up our attention to supporting new employees, we stand a much better chance of being seem as an employer of choice for top talent.
Supporting female and culturally diverse leaders takes conscious efforts to lead inclusively and address and dismantle hidden biases. It also means actively looking for ways to inspire their best.
And here is where the reminders of my imperfections as a leader come in. Each weekend as I strive for sharp, rigid lines in my carpet, I am also reminded of my desire for more linear methods of delegation, more definitive processes for decision-making, and more precise organizational systems to help me accomplish the short and long term goals I’ve established for myself as a leader, and for our district as a whole.
I’ve worked my entire career to be inclusive and equitable; to promote a culture of emotional and physical safety for students and adults. So I have to believe that changes geared toward helping all students and adults feel a sense of belonging, connection, and meaningful engagement in our schools are better achieved by being for something rather than against.
Occupying the back seat is conveying your desire to dismantle age-old rules of etiquette and blaze new trails. It’s about sending a distinct message about your style of leadership, and your desire to ensure a level playing ground for ideas and creative insight. Finally, it’s about expressing a leadership philosophy that demonstrates shared importance and a willingness to set ego aside for the betterment of the group.
I’ve experienced how our system can stack the deck against folks who are already struggling to get by, making it nearly impossible to ever escape the conditions that confine and shatter them. I’ve made it my life’s work to help open doors, windows, and other crevices of hope for those burdened by the failures of systemic injustice. I came to realize over time that I could be an agent of change; that I had capacity and untapped potential to make a difference for those who feel disenfranchised.
As school districts embark to support inclusive school cultures, it is paramount to make sure inclusion is part of the overall strategic plan. Like students, employees want to feel included, heard and valued, and they will go above and beyond if the essential need of belonging is met. Yet in my experience working with school districts across the country, I’ve noticed key employees left out of important discussions and decisions related to systemic change.