The following is a Q & A exchange between Daniel Kerr and me.
A few years ago, my school offered a Chinese language class through a cooperative effort between the University of Oklahoma and a Chinese education agency. Through that initiative, I had the privilege to travel to China with a group of students, teachers, and parents. On that trip, we had the opportunity to visit a Chinese school and tour four major cities. I also met some American teachers who had spent time teaching in international schools, and I was fascinated by their stories.
The last city we visited was the beautiful city of Shanghai where I was stunned by the history and modernity.
Daniel Kerr is principal of an international Middle School in Shanghai. Although I did not meet Daniel while in Shanghai, I was pleased to discover his blog. I am excited to have him share with us about his own experiences. Daniel is an educator and school leader who thinks deeply and shares transparently about the motivations behind being an educator.
My goal in posting interviews with successful school leaders like Daniel is to inspire us to reflect on how our own choices, goals, and actions can affect our lives, our leadership, and our teams. I must also give credit to John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire whose great podcast interview questions I have modified for the Q & A’s I have with my guests.
Daniel Kerr is currently the Middle School Principal at Shanghai Community International School in Shanghai, China, a division of 360 students Grades 6 through 8 with over 40 faculty. His wife, Jocelyn, is an educator who is currently doing her Masters Degree in Counseling. They have two beautiful children, Max and Gabby who are both in the Lower School. Daniel is passionate about education and blogs weekly at Monday Musings as well as at TIE online. He is also a regular contributing blogger at Connected Principals.
WDP: Thanks for sharing with us! Can you start by sharing a favorite success or motivational quote?
Daniel: Leadership is the ability to communicate someone’s worth and effectiveness so effectively that they’re inspired to see it in themselves. – Steven Covey
WDP: How have you used the idea contained in Covey’s words to affect your school’s leadership?
Daniel: Through distributive leadership opportunities, a focus on empathy and emotional intelligence, honesty and transparency, and by modeling at all times energy, enthusiasm, hope, and a strong sense of moral purpose.
WDP: Can you share one example of something you have done that required risk but created great results?
Daniel: Starting my weekly blog for faculty and colleagues around the world. It was scary putting myself on the line every week, and opening myself up to criticism or push back on what I believed about education. It has resulted in opportunities for great dialogue within my faculty, great learning opportunities for me and my team, and great networking opportunities as I’ve been picked up as the featured blogger for TIE online (The International Educator).
WDP: What was holding you back from seeing the high levels of success you are seeing now?
Daniel: Taking things too personally, and not having a thick enough skin so to speak. Fearing the hard conversations that take so much educational courage. I’ve grown into these abilities over the years, and now I always keep my compass directed toward what’s best for students and student learning. With that in mind, you can never go wrong, and decisions make themselves and become crystal clear when framed in that light.
WDP: What is something that is working for you or your team right now?
Daniel: Monthly faculty professional development opportunities called SIPS…where teachers teach other teachers and showcase their particular areas of expertise. We video tape the sessions and have them on a collaboration blog for all to archive and access. It’s been trans-formative in many ways for us.
WDP: If you could recommend a book for other school leaders, what would it be?
Daniel: Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement – John Hattie (or anything else by John Hattie)
WDP: Thanks Daniel for taking time to share with us! If you want to learn more about Daniel or teaching internationally, check out his blog, Monday Musings or his other platform at The International Teacher.
Daniel has been courageous in his ability to engage his teachers in discussions on important issues. What are some ways you are learning to engage others in those discussions? What are some other great educator blogs here or abroad you love to recommend?
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