(Forgive me if what follows is obvious.)
What we've called “highly qualified” since No Child Left Behind is not a super useful construct for deciding who should do what in a school building. It's a way of making sure that the people leading the classrooms once passed enough classes and tests and practica to earn a credential. But since there are so many variables involved in each class and test and practica on the credentialing pathway, the credential ends up signaling little more than static.
I'm not saying I know a better idea for federal policy in this area. I don't.
I'm just saying that, at present, the educator credentialing system in the US is a poor method for ascertaining whether someone is actually highly qualified to teach or lead. And for teachers, it's a bothersome, rigid obstacle to mid-career shifts that might breathe new life into individuals, schools, and systems.
So, if not HQ and credentialing, what then? Competency. Grow competent. Seek to bring on competent team members. Seek to develop competence in yourself.
But not just any competence. Focus. Again and again, the most impressively capable folks I meet in education are ever-advancing in their competence in four key areas.
- Leadership of Self: motivation, organization, decision-making, time management, work-life alignment, strategy (working on a course on this, aiming to launch by the end of this month — waitlist is here)
- Leadership of Others: what leading is, how it works, how to make culture, advocate, pursue responsible change, maintain group focus, build momentum, analyze a system
- Art and Science of Learning: what learning is, how it works, how to facilitate it
- Art and Science of Motivation: what motivation is, how it works, how to facilitate it (this is the SMC)
The better you get at these, the firmer the foundation of your life's work. Blessed side benefit to these four core competency areas — they enrich your beyond-work life, too.
One more thing: through them all, weave love. I'm convinced that love is the friction-remover and the weight-lifter. Get good at morally engaged thinking and working, and watch out — you'll start shining.
So maybe call them the Four Loving Competencies (caps makes it official). I don't know. Naming stuff isn't my thing.
But there's no doubt about it — strength in these is predictive in a way that credentialing can't match.