Have you ever seen this funny commercial about building a plane while in flight? Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3hge6Bx-4w During this first year of being a new administrator, I have often said at staff meetings, "We are building a plane while in mid-air" in regards to how many things we need to fix or change within our building while the students are in it and we move forward with trying to educate them.
We are an alternative school for students K-12. I am pretty sure we are in the cradle to prison pipeline Terry Holliday talked about in his post a couple of days ago, since many of our students have probation officers and have attended the juvenile lock-up facility in our area. Many attend there on a revolving basis like a teen going to the mall. I have six and seven year olds in this building who can't make it in their home school due to behaviors that are sometimes so out of control that you are in shock and awe wondering what has happened to them in those short years of life to get them to this point.
I am trying to build a program that can capture the interest of the students to hook them into learning, contains enough rigor to be educationally challenging and meets the needs of each individual learner while dealing with behaviors, drugs and mental illness that impede their ability to learn. Oh, and did I mention many of my staff are brand new teachers who are in their first year of teaching? Maybe it would be easier to build a plane while in flight?!?
I'm not using my assigned day to post to complain here. I am up for this challenge. I'm still young (early 50s!) and am confident I can make a difference as an administrator. I am trying to gather formative and summative assessment tools so we can assess where each student is at and use the data to make decisions (I am a product of Scott McLeod's teaching). I am trying to build positive behavior interventions into our school and programs so that we are making connections to each student and building relationships. I am trying to figure out a K-12 scope and sequence of curriculum so that we have some consistency and rigor to what we teach rather than just hand out worksheets. I am trying to incorporate technology so that we are using a variety of methods to hook kids into learning and teachers into teaching. And I am trying to mentor these new teachers so that they don't go home each day and drink heavily and wonder why the hell they ever went into education after dealing with behaviors and language that are not commonplace in most jobs, let alone from most children.
I AM building a plane while in mid-air. I'm not sure I am always in the pilot's seat, but we are moving forward. Just as building a plane takes time (let alone while in flight!), so does the work I am doing, and I need to remember that. Unfortunately, I can't ask the students to stop and wait for me to get the program built and the staff trained and the policies in place before they enter the building. It is happening while they are here. But I am sure I am not the only new (and seasoned) administrator this is happening to. Am I right?
How is your plane coming along?