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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Celebrating Accomplishments

Take a look at my 5 year old daughter’s progress evaluation for her gymnastics class:

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I bet your eyes went right to the checks that weren’t under the “I can do it by myself” column. Mine did too.

When I first looked at this report, I realized that my initial response was to find out what she couldn’t do. I stopped myself because I wasn’t taking the time to consider what she could do. What if my conversation with my daughter started with, “Well, you can’t do a pivot turn by yourself yet”?

Instead, I told her how proud of her I was and I asked her, “Do you want to do this again?”

“Yes!”

What if we took the time to celebrate with teachers and tell them how proud we are of their hard work? How would celebrating our accomplishments affect the start of the next initiative? I bet there would be more willingness to get started.

Change in schools often deals with improving something. There will always be room for improvement–but who will want to bother if we aren’t stopping to celebrate our accomplishments?