The Disney cartoon movie, Monsters, Inc., perfectly portrays my philosophy about education and leadership. The monsters are employed at a power plant where they pass through magical doors that connect to the bedroom closet doors of children. The monsters scare the children, capture the scream in a canister, and bring it back to the power plant to be deposited in the “scream tank” that powers their city. Some monsters are better at scaring kids, and they are valued for the amount of power that they bring back to the company. At some point during the drama of the movie, some of the good monsters discover that there is much more power in the laughter of the children than there is in their screams, and so they begin a comedy business to make children laugh and, in the end, their power problems are solved.
I believe this principle about there being more power in the positive also holds true in the classroom…when you create a positive learning environment in the classroom--a place that students look forward to being a part of every day--students learn so much more than they ever could in a classroom where the teacher doesn’t smile until Christmas. Ask yourself this question, “What can I do to create a positive learning environment in my classroom to connect kids to the school, help them learn, inspire them to dream, and ultimately prepare them for their future?” A teacher can surely get results by being gruff, distant, intimidating, short, and frightening, but I will contend up until my last breath or paycheck, “There’s far more power in the positive!”
Taking this philosophy a step further, I also believe that school administrators are far more successful when they nurture and develop positive and encouraging relationships with the teachers that they work with and supervise. The domineering approach to leadership may get results in the short run, but teachers eventually end up doing just enough to get by, and then they look to go elsewhere at the end of the year in order to work for a leader that supports them and appreciates their dedication, passion, and skills. Teachers will run through a wall for you if they know that you care about them and that you will move heaven and earth to help them get better and succeed. Education is a people business, and education leaders must become highly skilled at working with people in a positive and productive manner.