What Do People Want From Their School 127:365

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On either side of my home, there are teachers.  To one side, a middle school teacher in a district near by, to the other, an elementary teacher in our local district.  While talking to my neighbors at different times I have some interesting questions, at some point, perhaps I will feel comfortable asking them.

One of my neighbors asked me about my future move to administration, and talked about the opening that was filled recently in our local district.  They talked about the school and how much they like the district.  I wonder what it is that makes people like my town’s district.  We moved here in part to start a family because the town had a reputation for having “good schools,” but what makes them good?  To be honest I don’t know.

What makes people think of schools as being good?  What do most people want from their schools? How do we help the rest of the public understand what we value as education so that we are judging good schools by the same criteria?

When the Well Runs Dry 126:365

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Where do we go when the well runs dry?

For must of who are connected educators, it is to our PLN.  When inspiration is lacking, or we have hit a snag, we turn to those people who can always find way to create in us a flood.  Over the past few days I have found writing to be more difficult.  As the summer winds down and I get ready for school (I know most of you have already started by this point) I am finding less and less to write about and I need to find more inspiration.

Because of a very hectic end of summer schedule where I am juggling a heavy workload with my summer job, getting ready for school to start, and the demands of the end of my MSA Program requirements, my twitter, voxer, google+ time is very low.  It has made me realize how much I miss those things when I cannot dedicate much time to them.  Before the start of last school year, I had none of these things.  This year, I am starting from a much better place.  I have the support of amazing people both inside and outside of my building, I am involved in many great projects, and I feel as though someone has taken the blinders off and I can see the world around me for the first time.

I am excited for everything this coming year brings, and I look forward to sharing my reflections and ideas as life and my PLN inspire me to learn and grow!

Taking the First Step 125:365

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Taking the first step in change is scary!  I have seen many people that pause before that step.  It can be even harder when the change is one that people are not going to like, but is a necessary one.  Sometimes we find ourselves needing to adjust to these changes because we are forced into them.

When things like this happen, it is a huge deal to see the school’s leaders stepping up and taking a role in the change.  No matter what the difficult situation, when you ask people to band together, work harder, do more, it is the responsibility of the leader to be the first one signing up to do more!  That, is what sharing in the sacrifice is all about.

Any culture where a leader asks others to make concessions or changes but does not include themselves, is one that will turn toxic quickly if it has not already.  While a school leader cannot make all of the important changes to meet a school’s needs, they can have a great impact on the learning that is kids do every day.

The Value of Symbolic Connection 124:365

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I was thinking today about my first school, the school where I learned to teach while working as an aide. I love where I teach now, but I also know there are very few administrative opportunities where I am. While a part of me is excited potential for new adventures in my future, another part of me nostalgically thinks about the district where I first started in education.

Not only is there a connection to the concept of that school, but, we all did something that physically allowed me to leave my mark on the school.

Every student and staff member at the school leaves a handprint on the wall with their name and the year. No matter where I go, or what I do, I will have a comnection to that first school in so many ways.

It got me thinking about the connections we make in the virtual world. Our connections grow stronger through more interaction, but when we can have some physical interaction that matches the virtual interactions, the connections can get even stronger!

Are You Listening? 123:365

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Listening is such an important skill for leaders.  Being able to listen to your staff, learn what they are really saying, and then how you can help them.  One of the biggest challenges for a leader is to identify what others need.

The best way to do that is to listen to people.  Not to hear them, not waiting for your turn to speak, but to listen.

Leaders need to surrender the floor the same way teachers need to do it.  By giving the focus over to others it allows you to really begin listening to their needs.  By listening, you allow yourself to answer the needs of others.

Using Great Quotes from Leaders 122:365

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I see lots of people sharing great quotes by leaders.  It is important to share these ideas, to use them for inspiring others.  There is an incredible value in passing on learning, concepts, and ideas that are useful for other leaders.

What can become difficult, is what we do with those quotes.  Is there value in just sharing them with others?  While it is obvious how important it is to share great ideas, if we are only sharing them and not learning to incorporate them into our own leadership, what is the point?

When you hear something valuable, reflect and determine what that means for your leadership.  Then apply that, don’t just pass it on!

If It Isn’t Fun, You Are Doing It Wrong 118:365

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I don’t go to work.  I go to school!  While I “work at a school” and it is my job, I rarely say I am going to work.  Something I hope to recall as an administrator (hopefully someday soon) is that I have the most amazing job in the world.  I get to go to school every day and inspire the incredible.  I get the chance to, as Kid President would say (and my theme for this year), BE MORE AWESOME!  I use the word awesome a lot, probably beyond its intended meaning, but if people can misuse rigor, then I can misuse awesome.

Not every moment of every day is fun.  I know that as a leader it will not be either.  But, I have to keep in mind, that if I am not having fun working at a school, working with teachers and children, it is not the job that isn’t right, it is me!

I am not sure how someone can work at a school and not be having fun more times than not.  If you are, it is not something wrong with the kids or school, it is in the way you are doing things.  I will probably not love filling out reports, (I already don’t love that) but as an administrator what I know I will love, is interacting with kids, watching great teaching, helping teachers who are not at the point where every day is great or fun, and seeing a school develop as a community.

Perhaps it is an optimism versus pessimism concept, though I have always considered myself a pragmatist.  When it comes to school as a teacher, I focus on the things I love, the parts that bring me joy.  That is not to say I don’t do the other things, but when I look back on my day/week/year, I won’t remember the forms and paper work, I will remember the awesome, and that is why “working” at a school is incredible.