Ethics by example is a book by Paula Mirk that basically talks about school leadership. It starts by presenting a situation where by staff members at Carson Senior High School have a leadership problem with the students. But the principal, Mr. Waybright comes out to solve this by not siding with any party. He deviates from the normal reactions that many leaders give by presenting his own views. He says, "This notion of being the principle is an artificial one, you are who you are inside" (Mirk p 18). Schools that strive to balance academic rigor with ethical development will definitely have openness, honesty, foster building of relationships, and also reflect on its administrative duties, this is according to research from schools of integrity project. Secondary school heads who were consulted gave their views on how ethics in schools can be fostered. But what comes out clearly as one reads this book is that, building ethical, value driven school communities, require school leaders who are able to address those concerns in their daily running of their schools. Teachers should trust their professional judgment, which they should share, just in the same way as they expect their students to share their views. In this way they will be building on what their colleagues have and students will be able to learn in a creative synergy so that no one feels competitive or defensive.
For leaders to avoid being seen as arbitrary and insincere, they should tie decisions and the intended outcomes to what they believe to be right. School leadership should pay attention to values and ethics in order to foster good learning environments. Just as Mr. Waybright did in solving the issues at his school, leaders should not be biased in their leadership. Leaders should believe in themselves, in doing this they will be in a position to bravely execute their mandates without fear. Alison Adler from the School District of Palm Beach County in Florida says that when school leaders effectively convey their beliefs to staff, then high expectations, clear feedback, and a sense of confidence in students will automatically be achieved. Kathe, Principle at Mahtomedi High School confirms this by saying that, "Through my words and my actions, I can set that ethical standard for our building and for our community" (Mirk p 20). But the article goes a head to guide on how leaders should present their ideas, that they should not impose them, but be shared and allow opinions from others about them, that effective leaders should be in a position to resist the temptation to impose their beliefs on others. They should instead seek for a common ground and also mutual respect from all who are involved. As a leader one should try to understand others, not just colleagues but also students. Another important lesson that leaders can learn from this is that under no circumstance should they allow their actions and decisions to be dictated by the situation. They should remain who they are, an attribute that helped Mr. Waybright solve the issues that he was facing without hurting anyone. He said, "You can't let circumstances dictate, kindness, respecting others, are the values that shape who you are as the leader" (Mirk p 23).
Before reading this book, I had always believed that as a leader, a school head for that matter, I have the power to dictate things as long as I feel they are right. But from this book, I have just realized that this is wrong. Leaders should not impose their ideas on others, but present ideas and allow opinion from others. This is a very important lesson that many not just me, should follow. That we should always be ourselves no matter what circumstance faces us. Listen to both parties before jumping to conclusions. Teachers should be open to students just as they expect students to be towards them.
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