As I consider beginning to work with schools through CACE in both of the areas of improvement and innovation I think it is appropriate to start with the words will and wisdom. Over the years I have observed that effective change in schools is often simply a matter of having the will to do something. The leader must possess the will and inspire others to follow. There are many leaders who know of the right things to do, but are hamstrung by fear.
One of the pearls of wisdom that someone shared with me earlier in life is that a vast majority of the things we worry about do not come to pass. I have tested this theory in my own life and found it to be quite true. Yet it is our nature to try to anticipate all the possible negatives and then sometimes to let them paralyze us from further action. In conferring with friends, we usually can find enough support for either position we are considering from our friends who may be simply detecting that we simply want them to validate our leanings.
Leadership change takes will and courage in school settings – we will be second, third and fourth guessed over the course of the change process. Some of the doubting and second-guessing may be our own. We must also have the will to carry through and stay focused over a several year period – we see evidences of short attention spans of leaders all around us – this is not leadership.
Yet will without wisdom is sometimes simply imposition, stubbornness or poor timing. Wisdom helps us to determine how to make a solid plan, how to best check out the variables, to confer with others, to consider best timing, and to develop a rock solid commitment to the changes that are needed that will carry us through the deep waters to come. Wisdom also helps us to remember that we are not on our own, but belong to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who understands our fears, who carries us forward, and who gives us opportunity to serve him and others through our work. True wisdom comes down from above – we are told in James 1 simply to ask God for it. May God give us will and wisdom to make the needed improvements and innovations in our schools as we begin our work together at CACE.
Dan Beerens is an educational consultant, author, international speaker, and educational leader. Before starting Dan Beerens Consulting in May 2010, he served as Vice President of Learning Services and Director of Instructional Improvement at Christian Schools International. Prior to that, he was the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Holland Christian Schools. Dan has also worked as teacher and principal in urban and suburban public and Christian schools in Wisconsin and Illinois. He serves as a Senior Fellow at CACE (Center for the Advancement of Christian Education), represents Curriculum Trak sales and professional development and serves as co-chair of the annual Christian Deeper Learning conference. He blogs regularly for CACE and is the author of Evaluating Teachers for Professional Growth: Creating a Culture of Motivation and Learning (Corwin Press) and co-editor of the recent book MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education (ACSI).