Saturday, February 13, 2016

Leadership Lessons

What I’ve learned…

For the past year and a half, I have been working as an instructional coach in my district. I’m responsible for providing instructional support for our K – 12 teachers.  Luckily, I am part of an instructional support team, which includes a data coach, a technology coach and our director.  Together, we are a strong team.  We brainstorm, vent, offer support and plan together constantly.  The experience of this position has taught me many things, mostly some important lessons about educational systems and leadership.

Lesson #1 – Sometimes we focus so intensely on the needs of students that we forget about the needs of the adults in our system.
Teachers pour their hearts, souls, money and time into their classrooms each year.  The amount of energy that it takes to make it through a school year is draining no matter how much experience a teacher has. Like students, teachers have basic needs.  They need to feel safe, secure and valued.  They need to know that their opinions are not only heard, but considered seriously.  As leaders, we need to inspire, motivate, appreciate, recognize and honor the teachers who make it all happen every single day for our students.  People matter and we need to spend more time building and maintaining the relationships in our buildings.

Lesson #2 – “What is best for students” has very different meetings at different levels of education and that’s ok.
As an early childhood educator, I am constantly defending what is best for students.  It is time well spent in my opinion. Of course, we all know that what is best for a kindergarten student is different from what is best for a 10th grader.  However, district leaders often discuss the broad picture and focus on a vision of what is best for all students.  In my K – 12 position, I spend a significant amount of time with the K – 12 leaders in our district.  We frequently talk about “what is best for students”.  Each person in our group defines “what is best for students” a little differently.  I’m learning that it’s ok.  Each of us brings a variety of experiences, passions and responsibilities to the table.  Each of us works toward our vision of “what is best for students” in the way that best suits the needs of our students.  As long as those don’t work against each other…it is ok. 

Lesson #3 –  We should all do some deep thinking about our efforts to make everything “consistent” and “aligned”.

Sometimes I think we spend so much time trying to make everything the same, aligned, consistent, that we end up limiting the possibilities for our students and teachers.  We end up discouraging innovation and creativity.  Don’t get me wrong, I value the power of knowing what was covered within the curriculum from one year to another.  However, I believe that our time would be best spent focusing on the needs of each student and helping them move along a continuum, rather than keeping the learning of each group of students in a the tidy box that we call “the grade level curriculum”. 

Each day I learn something new about myself, the people around me, the system and how I need to adjust in order to grow.  Carpe diem!

Friday, January 1, 2016

January Currently!

Happy 2016!!

I am so grateful for this time to be able to join back in with Currently to start the new year!

Listening -  I'm listening to football bowl games, but I'm not really watching now that my favorite team finished winning for the day.

Loving - The family time over the break has been a huge blessing for me.  Being a full time grad student, working full time and being a full time taxi for kid activities at night made for a crazy fall.  So, I have enjoyed every single minute of this "grad school free" break.

Thinking - I'm ready to take on 2016!  When you are a goal setter each year is an opportunity to work toward those goals, to learn and to grow.  My husband and I spent a lot of time over the break talking to our kids about setting goals, taking risks to try new things, focusing on doing the right thing, celebrating your own personal growth and respecting the goals and hard work of others.

Wanting -  We need a new couch.  Our couch is fine if you only have 2 people sitting in the room.  We've been looking for new couches, but I'm picky (and so is my husband).  We're practicing patience while we search for exactly what we want.  Then our old (perfectly fine, but not big enough couch) will be moved to our lake house.

Needing - Notice I said "practicing" patience above.  Some people are naturally patient.  Some of us have to practice it. Some people have none and don't know that they should try to get some.  I'm in the need to practice category.  I'm a get things done kind of person, who practices patience on a daily basis.  Some days are more successful than others, but every new day is another opportunity for practice.

One Little Word -   Faith is my one little word for this year.  Faith was my one little word a few years ago.  However, that year I was asking for faith.   Now, I am going to let my faith help me with the patience thing while I listen to the lyrics of Bob Marley's, Three Little Birds in my head.

Cause every little thing gonna be alright!

Sending Farley well wishes, since she has been sick for a few weeks.  
Visit her to join in the fun!

Happy New Year!
Carpe diem!