Core beliefs should drive you to improve each day.

“If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.” -Winston Churchill

Last week, I had a conversation with a teacher about our student support process. We are both on our intervention team and the teacher was feeling frustrated about what to do next with a student case.

This was a great conversation for me because the teacher was giving me feedback on a process I helped to develop. I was stunned at first – I was under the impression that our intervention process was working well and we had great results for students during the previous school year. How could this be an issue?

But I quickly ignored those thoughts because this was someone whose opinion I trust and I didn’t want to miss a word.

After I listened, I reminded them about a conversation we had a couple of weeks ago about something similar. I told them that the structures we put in place to support students should be the floor and not the ceiling. If what we do is the very best we can do for a kid, then who cares what the process says is the next step?

I’ve been thinking about my conversation with my teammate a lot since then. While I believe structures and protocols are important, I also believe we often build our own barriers to solutions for the sake of protocols. I believe we need to consider protocols and processes the starting point for our conversations about a student and then use what we know about the student to help him or her be successful.

However, just because something is a core belief doesn’t mean I’ve mastered it yet. This is something I need to continue to reflect upon and improve, and it drives me to want to be a better leader each day.

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Core beliefs should drive you to improve each day.

“If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.” -Winston Churchill

Last week, I had a conversation with a teacher about our student support process. We are both on our intervention team and the teacher was feeling frustrated about what to do next with a student case.

This was a great conversation for me because the teacher was giving me feedback on a process I helped to develop. I was stunned at first – I was under the impression that our intervention process was working well and we had great results for students during the previous school year. How could this be an issue?

But I quickly ignored those thoughts because this was someone whose opinion I trust and I didn’t want to miss a word.

After I listened, I reminded them about a conversation we had a couple of weeks ago about something similar. I told them that the structures we put in place to support students should be the floor and not the ceiling. If what we do is the very best we can do for a kid, then who cares what the process says is the next step?

I’ve been thinking about my conversation with my teammate a lot since then. While I believe structures and protocols are important, I also believe we often build our own barriers to solutions for the sake of protocols. I believe we need to consider protocols and processes the starting point for our conversations about a student and then use what we know about the student to help him or her be successful.

However, just because something is a core belief doesn’t mean I’ve mastered it yet. This is something I need to continue to reflect upon and improve, and it drives me to want to be a better leader each day.

3 Reasons Why We Gave Access to Everyone

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Today, we gave every staff member access to our school’s Twitter account.

This could be a little jarring for those who are worried about what might go wrong. But after all, they have keys to the school building and they are with children all day.  Surely teachers can handle access to a school-wide account.

What’s funny is that when my principal and I established our school’s social media accounts during the summer, we kept the passwords secret and in a protected file. The whole purpose behind creating these accounts was to help our school get our story out there for everyone to see.  How was that going to happen when only two people had access to the accounts? 

But really, this goes beyond letting everyone access — It addresses 3 big reasons why teachers need to be connected.

1. On-going Professional Learning — Those of us who have connected to Twitter know that one of the best things about being connected is the countinous learning experiences we have because of our connections to other teachers around the world. There is a fourth grade teacher who has not only embraced learning through Twitter, but she has also used this new learning to create meaningful and engaging experience for her students through such as participating in the Global Read Aloud.  She is a voice that the staff needed to hear because she is making social media work for kids.

2. Sharing the good things that are happening every single day — Good things are happening in our building every single day. However, most of it never makes it outside of the walls of our building. We have an opportunity through Twitter to share our stories of learning with the world in real time. Getting our teachers connected to the school account will help share even more of those stories.

3. Becoming the digital leaders our students need — I showed our staff a Twitter account of a fourth grader in our building. This is an account that was created on his own. He certainly does not meet the age requirements needed to have an account, yet he has one. How many other of our elementary aged students have a social media account?  Rather than taking a “wait and see” approach to social media, we teachers and school leaders need to be taking a “learn with me” approach so that our students have positive models of responsible digital learning.

Today, our staff was given the tools, the chance and the trust to be digital leaders.  We need to be living the learning lives our students are learning so that we can help them be successful.  If we aren’t the role models for our students, who will be?

Don’t forget this…

Ever since I started thinking about being a principal some day, I have kept a list of things I want to remember when I get there. I started a notebook in Evernote and have a note called “When I am principal”.

This isn’t an agenda for how I will run a building someday. That would just be a big mistake. However, the list is a place where I have recorded some thoughts I’ve had on leadership, running programs, and staying focused on what is important.

I check on this list every now and then to see if I still feel the same about what I recorded. Usually the things I have listed stay, which I take as things that are important to remember. But if what I wrote down doesn’t seem relevant anymore, I get rid of it. It’s like reflecting on my reflections.

I hope to use this list to help me remember what I have thought about during my internship, when the weight of the principalship wasn’t clouding my thinking. I hope that in times of frustration, uncertainty, or even indifference, I can return to this collection of ideas and remind myself of what is important.

Here’s my list:

How do you continue to reflect and record ideas worth remembering?

Don’t forget this…

Ever since I started thinking about being a principal some day, I have kept a list of things I want to remember when I get there. I started a notebook in Evernote and have a note called “When I am principal”.

This isn’t an agenda for how I will run a building someday. That would just be a big mistake. However, the list is a place where I have recorded some thoughts I’ve had on leadership, running programs, and staying focused on what is important.

I check on this list every now and then to see if I still feel the same about what I recorded. Usually the things I have listed stay, which I take as things that are important to remember. But if what I wrote down doesn’t seem relevant anymore, I get rid of it. It’s like reflecting on my reflections.

I hope to use this list to help me remember what I have thought about during my internship, when the weight of the principalship wasn’t clouding my thinking. I hope that in times of frustration, uncertainty, or even indifference, I can return to this collection of ideas and remind myself of what is important.

Here’s my list:

How do you continue to reflect and record ideas worth remembering?

Share it.

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”

This is a quote from Maya Angelou and even though she may have intended it for something completely different, it made me think about how important it is for educators to share their skills and ideas with others.

Much of the work we are doing in schools in Ohio this year is to satisfy new mandates and new initiatives. Many of us are finding it hard to stay innovative and to be willing to take on new ideas because we are busy with the minutiae or we are tired from being busy with the minutiae.

However, I don’t think any of that is going away anytime soon. So, instead of continuing to complain about it, we need to move on and find more sources of inspiration and innovation. That’s where sharing becomes so important.

We need to be sharing our ideas, lessons, books we read, thoughts we have – anything that is important to us because it spurs further thinking and ideas in others. There are so many ways for educators to easily share their ideas – Twitter, Google+, blogging…it’s all there, we just need to access it.

And don’t let your own ideas stop you. When I first got connected through Twitter and started blogging, I was reluctant to share because I thought, “Who is going to think this is a good idea?”. I realized that I needed to change my mindset to, “I hope this helps someone get an idea that will help kids.” That shift in thinking helped me realize that it was important for me to add my voice to the collective conversation.

I love this quote from George Couros about realizing we are the experts. I think it speaks to the importance of sharing our knowledge with others:

When we look at change, we have to realize everything we need is often already within our own organization.  We just have to figure out how to unleash this talent. Isn’t this the culture we want in our classrooms?  It has to be modeled from the top and the way that we view every individual part of our organization.

So, make it a point to start sharing more of your ideas with others. If you haven’t connected on a social media platform yet, get connected. If you have accounts, start using them.

I need your ideas to help me continue to grow as a teacher.