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Focus on the Students

Pearls of Wisdom
By Leigh Anne Toler
Focus on the Students

For over 30 years international school leaders, teachers, and counselors have come together for Principals’ Training Center (PTC) professional learning experiences. Each day of every program begins with a “pearl of wisdom,” a “nugget of knowledge,” or a “gem of inspiration” from one of the participants. We are delighted to offer our readers around the world these powerful stories, insights, and strategies, all dedicated to our shared mission of ever more and better learning for our children.  

In this Pearl, Leigh Anne shares a piece of advice she received that flipped her approach to decision-making and leadership, “We don’t work for adults. We work for kids.” She continues by giving practical things that shifted when she focused on working for kids:

  1. Be accessible.
  2. Seek student voice to be included. Listen and act when possible.
  3. Build trust through transparency.
  4. Empower them as much as possible by giving them ownership and allowing them to make decisions.

She says, “We often worry too much about the impact of our work on the adults, what they think, how they’ll buy in, and then we sometimes exclude the student voice.” However, remembering to focus on the students, their perspectives, voice, and impact, “goes a long way to building a student-centered culture at your school.”

Professional positions cited were the ones held at the time of recording. The positions and schools of those quoted may have since changed.

Leigh Anne Toler is the upper years transition and continuity leader and academic coordinator at the British School of Brussels in Belgium.

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