As a principal I am always encouraging my teachers to be risk takers and think differently when it comes to their instructional practice. It is easy for me to tell others what they need to be doing but I often remind myself that I need to be taking risks right along side my teachers. This shows them that I am practicing what I preach and I am putting myself out there risking failure to do what is best for our students and school.
I will tell you it is not easy to put yourself out there. Fear of failure is real, even for me. I will also tell you that when you take a chance, do something differently, try a different approach, the outcomes are often more rewarding because your ownership is greater. The sense of accomplishment is higher.
As a school leader I believe it is imperative to model risk taking and thinking differently for teachers and students. If you want your teachers to be brave enough to change what they are doing they need to see you doing the same. If you expect your teachers to create a risk taking culture and environment in their classroom, you need to be doing the same as their leader. You will find that as you think differently and take risks your school will begin to improve and transforms before your very eyes.
I would love to hear about your risk taking and thinking differently in your classroom and school. Post comments below or reach out to me on social media!
Think. Achieve. Succeed.
Working in education constantly reminds me of the constant struggles that occur in students lives that I do not even know about. When I am walking around the school or on duty I make it a point to speak with students. This helps me to keep in touch with the students and to get to know them in a setting that is not related to behavior or discipline.
Unfortunately I have a conversation from time to time that reminds me of just how much stress and distraction our students have to deal with on a daily basis. One such conversation was with a student that was obviously tired. When I asked the student why he was so tired he said that his grandmother is very ill. His mother has him stay up with his grandmother until she falls asleep at night because his mother has to work. There is not a father at home. He also told me that if she does not improve his family will have to move to where there is more medical help and family support. The student told me that he did not want to leave because he really likes our school.
Sadly there are countless stories such as these in schools across America. Students are not able to be just students for a variety of reasons. In the end as educators we must work with students no matter how they come to us.. We must help the student find the balance. We must use all the resources we have at our disposal as a school and as a community. We must have hard conversations with students, parents, and fellow educators about what needs to be done to help students achieve success.
Please remember that we are educating people, not making widgets. Students have emotional needs that may not always be met at home. Sometimes education requires education of the emotional as well as academic needs of our students. So the next time you have one of those student conversations and you find a student is struggling with non-academic issues, what will you do?
Think. Achieve. Succeed.
As a middle school principal I often think about improving my school, especially in the area of parent communication and involvement. Life is really busy and it can be difficult for parents to make it to all the different meetings they would like to attend. In 2016 there has to be a better way. About a month ago I began thinking about how could I get the information shared in informational meetings such as course registration meetings, athletic parent meetings, PTO meetings, etc to my families in a usable format. The idea of streaming came to mind so I began exploring.
YouTube offers live streaming in the form of an "event" which is a great option for our needs. Basically it works like a google hangout with the major difference being a link to the live stream is automatically placed on the YouTube channel which allows viewers to watch as the event is recording all the while YouTube is uploading the video so it can be replayed once the recording is complete. YouTube events allow for up to 8 hours of continuous recording so you can create really large videos very easily.
This week was the "trial run" for this technology at my school. I promoted the live streaming to my families via email, remind, and social media with the time and meeting subject of the live stream.
Our families were able to view live streams for the following:
The response from parents was overwhelmingly positive. Many parents emailed me or commented on social media to say thank you for making their lives just a little easier by providing the choice of a live stream. One parent told me she was running late to the meeting but she was able to listen in her car while she was driving to the meeting and she felt like she did not miss anything. In less than 24 hours each of the parent videos had over 130 views. Currently there are 67 views of the PTO meeting. I cannot say I have ever seen a PTO meeting with 67 people in attendance. Click here to see our school YouTube Channel.
I share this with you not to say, look at what I did, but rather to say look at what good you can do for your school families if you just simply act on an idea. Take a risk. Act on the idea. You will be amazed at the results.
Think. Achieve. Succeed.
This seems to be a common occurrence with educators. We have a great idea, something that we really should implement in our classroom or school or in our professional learning but for some reason we choose not to. We tell ourselves that we are better off if we wait... for the right time, the right students, the right administrators, the right _______________ (fill it in with your words). You get my point.
We all know this, but we need to be reminded: there is never going to be the right time, the right students, the right administrators, or the right whatever. I say stop waiting. Take that chance. Take a risk. Go all in. As along as you are doing what is best for your students, your teachers, your school community as a whole, your professional learning then I as you what do you have to lose?
So that idea that you have been thinking about, now is the time to share it. Don't wait. If you are thinking there will be a better time, you are mistaken. Put the wheels in motion. Do what you know you need to do for your students. Do what you know is right for their learning. Take that leap. Take a chance. Be a risk taker. See just what you can achieve. You just might amaze yourself.
Think. Achieve. Succeed.
Being an educator today can become overwhelming in the blink of an eye. With all the demands that are placed upon our time it is easy to become lost in the details of what needs to be done. Preparing for lessons requires time before and after school because a 45 to 50 minute conference period is simply not enough. Some of the other issues that come into play and demand the time of educators are tutorials, parent communications, campus meetings, department meetings, emails, dealing with copy machines that are seemingly always possessed by some crazy monster, and many other time consuming items.
So how do you survive as an educator with all these demands on your time? You must prioritize your time and place your focus on what matters.
The trick is determining what takes priority and what matters when it comes to your time. This is different for each person and you must determine your own criteria. Here are some criteria I utilize in my role as a principal:
I know these may seem simplistic but as a school leader these are the areas that I must place my focus. These three areas of a school are most important to the overall success of the school. If the time consuming item in question does not fit into one of these criteria then it does not take a high priority. Simple as that.
How will you filter the distractions so that you can focus on what matters in 2016?
Think. Achieve, Succeed.
I would love to hear from you. Please share your comments below!
Director of Instruction and Leadership Development
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