Here we are on the brink of another year. I am so very excited. This is the start of my third year as principal. With our building under construction and such things as phones, printers, computers and other technology not all ready to go 100%. Teachers could not get into their rooms early and dust is all over everything.
Aside from that, I am certain that this is a pivotal year for our school. For two years we have been working to build an infrastructure that will lead us to sustainable change. I had not really thought of this until a recent conversation I had with our Assistant Superintendent. As I assumed this was what needed to be done. It was during this time that he indicted that both he and I are agents of change and it is not easy work but it is the right work. There is no doubt that without his continued pushing and support on the district level, could we look at what we need to do at the building level.
As I was preparing for the 1st day of teacher workshop for the year, I realized that work we have been doing the last two years will shape this years work to what I hope is to a new depth of working with our kids.
Our work for the past two years laid the foundation. I hope that you will read through and offer comments and advice. Are we moving to slow, to fast or not at all? Listed below is only a synopsis of what we have done:
· Aligning our school priorities to district initiatives. In doing this we gather the support from a district level as we do the work.
· Redesigning our school leadership teams. Created separate teams so they can focus on specific topics. We have a team that will work on school priorities and goals, professional development etc.. Another team will focus on the schools day to day operations. There are other teams as well. In doing this we are building the leadership capacity of more teachers.
· Administrative Team. I have been fortunate enough to be able to separate the roles of my team. One of our Associate Principals works on the operation of the school, the other works on professional development and curriculum. Both are a vital part in being instructional leaders for our teachers.
· Data Digging. We have been working with staff to begin gathering and analyzing data. The hope is to be able to identify what it means and allow our instructional practices to be driven by this.
· Professional Learning Communities. We are entering our fifth year and are on our third good year. We are able to have the teams meet every week by having a late start for students once a week. This year teams will create SMART goals, dig deeper with data and continue to develop better formative assessments.
· Failure is Not and Option. This year we are poised to implement our System of Interventions (embedding RtI). For two years we have been letting staff know that we have to take responsibility for our students… we have to ask how we are responding to those that are failing…
· Other things we have done are creating small learning communities, standardized how our tasks forces work, embed professional development activities in all staff meetings and on and on.
Of course by no means are these things earth shattering. Schools across the country have been doing this work for years. However, for our current reality this is a major shift in going from a teacher centered school to a learner center school. The culture of a traditional secondary school is difficult to penetrate. This is where the struggle often lies. At the same time, the urgency to look at what we do is even more important. Moving from good to great can be painful. Knowing what is the right thing to do is essential. For me, it has to be doing whatever it takes to have students succeed by ensuring that we truly are a learner centered community. Not wavering from this I believe has allowed us to be where we are at.
Are we as a school doing everything I listed above at the level where we need to be? No, we do have a long way to go. Yes, we still have those that resist and risks to take to get there. Having the critical conversations can be hard to do but it all needs to be done
the message has been clear, the change has been difficult, the shift has been painful…
but for our students it has been all worthwhile.
Have a great year!!!!