A Glance Behind...While Still Moving Forward...
by Brenda J. Reed

Thinking back on the goal statement I completed as part of my initial enrollment in the P-12 School and Postesecondary Leadership concentration through Michigan State University back in early 2007, I recall thinking that as a long-time alternative education teacher, I needed to better understand my students.  I wanted to know how adults learn, what truly motivates them, and how I could more effectively reach and teach them when they walk into my classroom.  I can honestly say that at that time I was thinking more about working with adult students than I was teen-aged students or students with academic or behavior difficulties. 

Many things have changed in the years that I have studied at MSU.  I have watched my own children grow, have struggled through dramatic change in my daily duties as a teacher, have opened my eyes to see how related everything in my world really is, and what is important in my life.  Thanks to my studies, I have discovered that it really is okay to care about my students and treat them as if they are my own children.  I have also learned that my ideas about treating people with respect, regardless of age or association, is not only acceptable, but preferred and worthwhile in education.  And most importantly, I have learned that my ideas about what it means to lead or truly educate people, were correct.

I have, in the past, struggled with others’ ideas about what it means to be a teacher or leader.  I couldn’t understand why people felt that teaching or leading meant you should be distant or superior.   I have always prided myself in my ability to relate with my students; I couldn’t help thinking that if more people took the time to care for their students or colleagues in a more personal manner, everyone could benefit.  Each course that I studied in the Michigan State Masters of Education program has reinforced my ideas.  Not only do I leave the program with important ideas and concepts that will help me to be a more effective teacher, but I also leave with the confidence I need to show others a better way.  Being the leader doesn’t mean being the boss…it means sharing and communicating with others everything good and important about a lifetime of learning.  Being the boss means listening as much as talking, empathizing instead of judging, and moving instead of remaining stagnant. 

Thanks to my time spent at Michigan State University, I can now confidently say that leading and teaching, to me, mean…giving.