Sometimes I get these great ideas! Well, to me they’re great… I’m sure most of them, if not all, have been had by others before. So, I was talking to some other administrators at our latest Admin PD (which was about powerful PLCs). I was sharing some of the things we are doing at Landing Trail School and how PLCs are tied to the Professional Growth Plans, and the PD we engage in is based on the goals in our PGPs. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the tangible evidence I am looking for in classrooms in relation to the goals the teachers are working on is engagement. My most recent blog detailed some of the learning I have had around student engagement and what I think it should look like.
My main idea around student engagement is that there has to be opportunity for students to really work with the information. That will likely appear as the opportunity to tear the information apart and rebuild or apply it in some manner. After spending the morning discussing PLCs and the role we play in ensuring they are productive and centred around improving student learning, I was struck with my ‘aha moment’. We expect teachers to be learning and moving forward in PLCs the same way we expect students to be doing in the classroom. Why should we not have our minds turned to the idea of teacher engagement in our PLCs as well?
Our PLCs should contain opportunity to really engage with the goals they have set. They need to have the tools and environment to really dig into the learning they are expected to do.
So, my task becomes clearer – I am a coordinator of engagement. One of my main jobs as an instructional leader is to ensure an environment where both students and teachers are engaged in the learning that they are doing. Sound easy?
Uh….. nope! But imagine the great things that can happen when everyone is engaged in the job they have!!
Here’s the third of my videos with advice to new principals. Still not sure about the “Pearls of Wisdom” title – I didn’t add that!
I’m not sure which of the items in the title that I am most excited about. I found Spiderman, Wolverine and Captain America Socks at a comic book store in Edmonton last week. Being 87% nerd, that got me a bit excited. I think I will be looking for more theme socks in the future. (I did give the Wolverine pair to my oldest son)
Today is the third day I’m in my new office at my new school, getting ready for a new school year. The office is not officially open until Monday, but like many principals, I’m in trying to get my head wrapped around a new way of doing things. Our school division is going through a huge transition with the majority of schools seeing one or both of the administrators as new to the position. It is going to be an exciting and interesting year as we learn and grow together.
My new school is about twice the size of my previous assignment, but still the same configuration (PreK – 4). I’ve found it interesting how two schools, that do the exact same job, can approach certain things in very different ways. I’ve been through the staff handbook and made a few changes, but I think I will have to do quite a bit of observation over the next few weeks/months before making any big changes.
I usually get a bit excited about change, and this is no different. I don’t get as excited about meeting new people, so I am a bit nervous about that. So far though, everyone has been great. Hopefully they are patient as I work at applying those Principal Quality Standards to a new situation!
Here’s to a great school year for everyone; and I’d appreciate any kind of feedback throughout the year as I continue to post my reflections.
Over the last few years, in addition to lots of other great things, we’ve developed a new mission and vision. This has helped move me to spend considerable time thinking about how to implement both my own vision and our school vision. A necessary part of the process is putting systems in place to make that happen. I decided near the end of the last school year that the way we utilized our staff teams at school just wasn’t working. We now have a:
- School Leadership Team
- Lighthouse Team
- Seven Habits Certification Team
- Staff Wellness Team
The first three teams have been in place for the last two years, and the school leadership team has been around for quite a while. The wellness team is new this year.
I knew that the teams weren’t necessarily doing all that they could to make our school function more efficiently and have the best overall benefit for students, staff and community. I made a change in two ways. Firstly I changed the composition of each of the teams. The second change was around the role of each team.
The Leadership team is now composed of The school admin, counselor and anyone on staff involved in the Divisional Leadership cohort or is working on their Master’s Degree. I also added a support staff member to allow room for that voice in our decision making. This team added the task of planning our school based PD activities. Our division is allowing school control of PD for both professional and support staff to a much higher degree. While we are glad to have this control, we decided that the process must be undertaken carefully and with a mind to benefit us in the greatest way possible. Our team continues to work on its roles in
Leadership as well PD Planning and implementation. We will refine our process and skill in this area.
Both the Lighthouse and Certification teams are directly tied to the Seven Habits Program we are part of. We have worked together with our sister school, (Lilian Schick School) where we send our grade 4 students to for grades 5 – 9. The teams work to implement the program in our schools and train our new staff and parents about the program. Changes made in these teams have resulted in a clarity of what each team needs to do, as well as tasking them with keeping the program moving forward. These roles too, are still being developed, and the need for establishing clear goals continues to be a focus.
The Wellness team is new this year. We all know that there is stress in our job and being mindful of that, I decided it was important to have a committee specifically designated to “address the stress”. We try to have a monthly activity in which whoever can attend is welcome. Putting a committee like this together demonstrates the value in staff relationships and collegiality.
Being mindful in putting together teams that move the school in a desired direction was, in my opinion, a good idea. We are making progress. We are moving forward.
Sometimes it feels like our inspiration wanes. We get tired; we get frustrated; we feel like nothing we do makes a difference. Sometimes we feel like we are just running around in circles. How do we keep moving and keep our enthusiasm strong? The recent passing of Nelson Mandela has me thinking about the inspiration to keep going when everything seems to be in opposition to what you want to see happen.
Very few people will have to endure 27 years of prison as Mr. Mandela did. How he kept his focus for the goal of equality for all South Africans is remarkable. He is a truly remarkable man. When he was released from prison he was overwhelmed by the support he received by the masses. Crowds waited outside the prison just to get a glimpse of him. The crowds were inspired by him, and their support must have also inspired him to keep pressing forward in his purpose.
My journey of inspiration is far from grand, but I think all of us can garner inspiration from a few common areas. A few of the many ways, that come to mind:
- Family – Our family is our legacy. I want my children to grow to be people that make a difference to those they come in contact with. I have to set an example for them, and provide them with a model of what I want them to be.
- Meaningful work – As an educator, I know that what I do makes a difference. Like my family, I have a large group of stakeholders who depend on me to do what is best for them. They require me to be an advocate and inspire me to do the best job I can for their best interests.
- Seeing the good in others – I love Upworthy, and videos like this just make me happy because of the great things that others do. They are truly inspirational –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1JnQq66F6g
- The support of others – One of the things I believe inspired Nelson Mandela was the support of millions of people who looked to him for inspiration. Those people who look up to us and follow us have to cause us to do our best to keep things moving forward even when we don’t feel up to the task.
I know there are many more things that inspire me, but this is what came to mind this morning. The Christmas Break is looming, and we all need time to get re energized, and keep moving forward. Sometimes the most inspiring thing is the thought that we are the inspiration for others.
POST A LINK TO SOMETHING INSPIRATIONAL IN THE COMMENTS!
I found this link on Twitter – this is a GREAT article on improving morale. Please read.
Can’t sit in on this myself – but for Alberta educators, this should be a priority
Tomorrow evening, join the AISINetwork as well as the PLPNetwork for a Twitter chat about Action Research as an Iterative Process.
On Wednesday, January 16, at 9pm Eastern time (7pm Mountain time), you’re invited to join us on Twitter for a live stream of connected learning tweets. The topic for our chat:
Action Research as an Iterative Process
The action research process can help you understand what is happening in your classroom and identify changes that improve teaching and learning. Action research can help answer questions you have about the effectiveness of specific instructional strategies, the performance of specific students, and classroom management techniques.
Action research is an iterative (circular) process, in that you get better results on your second, third, and fourth cycles as you learn more and go deeper. Join us as we share examples of action research and talk about projects we’re working on. You…
View original post 353 more words