Saturday, August 23, 2014

Reflections on Week One

It is Saturday morning, and our first week of school is done. It is a whirlwind of meetings and greetings, seeming to fly past quickly, but in reflection the first day seems to have happened two months ago.  A busy, but very good week of school has past, and I am finally finding time to reflect on it all.

Reflections are an important part of learning. My blog has become my avenue for reflecting, empowering me to learn from others, in addition to my own mistakes and successes. I strive to model this type of reflection for my staff, so that they too can reflect on their teaching and learning. I am vulnerable in my reflections, which was quite scary at first. My thoughts are my own, and pushing “publish” for the world to tap into those thoughts was not easy. With each post, I am more comfortable with the publish button, but in this reflection, I feel most vulnerable.


The first week of school is such an important one. It is where we set the stage, the tone, for the school year. As a leader in my building, I set the tone for my staff for the first time in the school year, I greet the parents for the first time this school year, and I see our students in their new classes for the first time this school year.  It is a week of firsts and first impressions matter. So to reflect on these first impressions is quite difficult - I want the first week to be the most positive, inspiring, and uplifting week of the school year for everyone. I want staff to feel energized and ready for a great year.  I want parents to feel supported in their choice to bring their children to my school. I want students to feel excited and ready to learn in their new classrooms. If any part of the week does not go well, then I take responsibility for that - it is a reflection of my leadership.

So, as I sit this Saturday morning reflecting on the week, I wonder how my teachers, parents, and students feel about their first week of school. In my initial conversations, I have received extremely positive feedback.  Wonderful! My staff has been working so hard to build fabulous learning environments, and parents have been very open and honest about the school making a difference for their children. They are happy! Students are eager to learn and have done a great job through the first few days.

And yet, even though I have heard quite a bit of positive feedback, I always prepare myself for the negative, even doubting myself in how the first week has gone.  In the first staff meeting, was I positive and clear enough in our action plan and vision for the school year?  Did I go too fast? Cover too much?  Not cover enough?  Did I say what I really meant to say?  Did it come across in the way I had envisioned in my mind? What was my staff thinking during or even after the meeting? Did I attain my goal during that meeting?  At Open House, did our parents feel welcome and happy to be returning to school? Did they get the information they needed to start the school year? Are they still needing more information? Are the students prepared and ready for the start of school? Are they excited? Do they like their new teacher and classroom?

Face-to-face conversations are so critical to find these answers, and I hope they are as truthful as I need to them to be so I can continue to learn and grow as a leader. I strive to be a better leader every day, every year, so that my staff, parents, and students feel safe, supported, and eager for school. It matters to me because I know our schools are our future. I will continue to reflect, build relationships with teachers, students, and parents to find these answers. I will continue to seek feedback from my stakeholders so I can make it even better next year. And though I doubt myself, I am confident in my learning and growing, as I have empowered myself to do so.

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Challenge to You

School is about to begin for the 2014-2015 school year. It will be an exciting year of changes, growth, and challenges. Many times, a “challenge” is deemed negative, meaning it is a hardship or a problem. Challenges do not need to be negative. In the classroom, we give our students “challenges” all of the time. There, a challenge is a quest to overcome, to solve, and to learn within the task. Challenges define who you are, summon you to take on something new, and stimulate growth. In education, we need to challenge each other, to inquire, and pursue excellence.

For this school year, I challenge you…
  • to be proactively positive every day, no matter what negativity surrounds you
  • to grow and learn along side your students
  • to play games with your students
  • to laugh
  • to connect with other educators
  • to build relationships with students and their families
  • to collaborate with great educators and interesting minds
  • to create great lessons, great activities
  • to reflect on your practice and write about it
  • to share the story of your classroom through your website, a blog, and/or professional social media
  • to celebrate successes in your classroom
  • to try a new technological tool
  • to find a great resource and then share it with colleagues
  • to take a risk and know it is ok if it didn’t work out they way it was planned
  • to help students learn how to be digital citizens
  • to model what you want to see
  • to think about time differently during the day, maximizing what you have for constant meaningful engagement
  • to base every decision on kids
  • to engage students in questioning and inquiry
  • to ask WHY
  • to wake up, be amazing, and then go to bed.

I know this school year will be fantastic. I’m a bit partial, but my staff is the best! Together we tackle these challenges, becoming better, helping each other grow, thus pushing our students to newer heights!