Like most principals, I try to identify positive traits and instill those qualities in my staff culture. Over the years, one trait has been the most important measure of an effective teacher and staff member: flexibility. It is essential for teachers to be able to adapt to new situations. Flexibility is central for the success of teachers and the learning of their students.
The central mantra of the truly flexible educator is that student learning comes first. Flexible teachers will challenge norms that get in the way of learning. If the educator is passionate in reaching every student, they will not focus on the idea of the ideal student, but on strategies for reaching every student where they are. They are looking for solutions to problems, not excuses for failure, and they approach students with grace and understanding. In this they follow Christ’s example, as Romans 5:8 tells us that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Flexible teachers teach with the understanding that we are striving for success, and that this requires working with students where they are.
A flexible teacher is able to collaborate with their peers to improve effectiveness. The ability to collaborate and see merit in the ideas of others is important for success for any teacher, regardless of grade level. The challenges of the educational setting and the growing complexity of curriculum mean that team teaching and collaboration are necessities if a teacher is going to be successful. Like Solomon in 1 Kings 3:9 who understood that he needed wisdom from God to be an effective ruler, the effective teacher is conscious that they do not know everything and strive for constant growth.
Another valuable asset in a flexible educator is the ability to forgo ego for success. Adaptive educators surround themselves with people who will be honest in their critiques, and seek out comments which will improve instructional quality. In some of my most positive experiences, teachers have invited observation from administration and peers to gain constructive and divergent opinions. The willingness to not only seek input, but then implement change, is the difference between the adequate teacher and the excellent one.
Because of the importance of flexibility, the successful school administrator will strive to foster an education environment that allows for collaboration and change. The effective leader is willing to do whatever it takes to lead by example, just as Christ washed the disciple’s feet in John 13:4-5. It is vital for the school principal to model flexibility by encouraging feedback and input from the staff. As staff provide suggestions for change, the school administration must be prepared to make adjustments and discuss collaborative ways to put student education first in all decisions.
Finally, flexible teachers and administrators embrace the fact that the only constant is change. Looking forward to changes and growth is part of the joy of life, not an imposition. The commitment to spiritual, personal, student, staff, and community growth is a hallmark of any flexible educator’s contribution.
Note: Article written and posted in English