I’ve been reading lots of blog posts with lists about ways to recharge this summer. I couldn’t help but think of my own list. These are my summer “must-dos” that help me as I prepare to embark on the journey of the upcoming school year:
Eat Fair Food-Okay, I spend all year trying to eat healthy food. I mean really, I’ve eaten pounds of quinoa this year, but this summer I’m eating funnel cake and drinking that really sugary lemonade that you can only find at a fair or festival. There's something about fair food that helps me feel like a kid again. And, in my opinion, there's no better way to prepare for a new school year than to tap in to your "inner kid".
Read-Most summers I am able to read three times as much as I do during the school year. What I find is that my summer reading inspires me to prepare for the school year ahead. I am able to take the themes and big ideas from what I read and create the vision for my leadership for the upcoming school year. And, I use my summer reading to plan, a hopefully inspirational, beginning of the school year kick-off for my teachers. This summer I’ve already read One Thing, Radical Leap Re-Energized, and Greater Than Yourself. Now, I’m moving on to Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and then Drive. I am beyond inspired by the message of all of these books.
I’m also going to be spending time reading my favorite blogs by Cathy Mere, Franki Sibberson, Craig Vroom, Pernille Ripp, Tonya Buelow, WeAreTeachers, and the blogs of my friends from #blogamonth to name a few.
Oh, and, I’m also taking suggestions for other titles to add to my summer reading list.
Sleep in-I’m a morning person, I really am, but for some reason just knowing that I can sleep in during the summer is liberating. So, for a few weeks, I stay up late and sleep in (as late as my four kids will let me).
Shop-Most of the blogs I’ve read have encouraged me to go outside and explore nature in the summer, well I’m not a big fan of outside, but I love shopping. And, even more, I love going to the mall on weekdays when everyone else is working and I have the whole place to myself. I also love checking out the book recommendations from my PLN and using my Amazon Prime account to order them all! (I’ll be hiding my credit card statement from my husband this summer!)
EdCamp-The only kind of camping I like is “EdCamping”. EdCamps are my newest favorite form of PD. Last summer Twitter was my new favorite PD, now it’s an old friend. This summer it’s all about EdCamp. If you haven’t attended on yet, be sure to put it on your summer “must-do” list and sign up today. You will not be disappointed! EdCamp allows me to spend time talking to, dreaming with and learning from educators in a relaxed atmosphere.
Dream-Most of all, for me, summer is a time for dreaming. I spend a lot of time dreaming and envisioning what next school year will be like. I dream up ways to inspire teachers and students. I dream up new ways to offer professional development and new ways to push my teachers to become leaders and risk takers. I dream up ways to solve our problems and push us out of our comfort zones. I dream about where the journey of next school year could take us.
Summer truly is a time for slowing down and gearing up for next school year. It’s a time to recharge so that you can set your sights on the journey of the upcoming year. Enjoy this time, make the most of it. And, don’t forget to dream.
A few weeks ago, I geared up to do my typical end of the year survey. I was hoping to find a great innovative survey, so I turned to my PLN. Well, what happened next was better than I could have expected. Two members of my PLN (who just so happen to work in the same school district as me) had a suggestion. Scott Morrison said #friendsdontletfriendsgiveworksheets! After reading that I thought…“I hate it when he's right!” and I started to think about ways to gather information about my leadership without reducing it to a “worksheet”. Luckily, my colleague, Brent Wise came to my rescue with a simple, yet powerful idea--
10 minute meetings!
He suggested that I ask three questions:
What did I do well?
What did I fall short on?
What do you need from me next year?
So, I jumped in and scheduled 10 minute meetings with my teachers. And, I learned so much about what teachers really want.
My goal the 2013-2014 school year had been to inspire teachers to take risks and to not be afraid to fail. After the meetings it was clear that my teachers had heard my message loud and clear and that they actually liked being pushed.
Today I spent some time organizing the comments that the teachers made during the meetings and I found an interesting trend about what the teachers in my building want. The comments fell into two distinct categories:
Inspiration and Communication
So, principals and school leaders, our job is easy! If you LOVE learning and risk taking and truly believe that the work you can do will change the world, then share that passion with your staff, invite them to join you on the journey.
Communicate your vision and inspire them to:
DO WHAT’S BEST FOR KIDS
TAKE A RISK
The rest will follow.
These responses fit into the INSPIRATION category (notice which list is longer):
you give people opportunities to try new things
you push people to do best w/o terrorizing us
you're forward thinking, building PLN, trying twitter
not be afraid to fail and think outside the box
you push us and don't let us become complacent --giving us more opportunities
you pushed us to be in charge of our own PD
you're PD crazy and I like it-opens our eyes to opportunities
I like having people challenge me to not keep the status quo
never feels stale around here
you keep us ahead of the game and finding out about extra PD and books
you inspired me to challenge myself and make me be a better teacher
providing encouragement and opportunities to take risks and fail
you stressed that it's okay to fail and so I pushed myself
flexibility of trying new things and fail
coaching us as teachers
appreciate feedback about literacy
I'd rather work for principal that has a vision than who's a manager and I feel like we're going somewhere
there is a sense of urgency around here
trying new things and being open to new things and if they didn't go well try something else
you pushed us to try new things-tech/Global Read Aloud
I love celebrating failures
you're open to trying things and if they don't work you don't get bent out of shape
you're a visionary and when you get an idea you go for it
trust and freedom
love that you don't micromanage us and that you trust us
it's not a competition
you're good about pushing us and I now know I can attain the expectations!
I like the coaching
I like the blogs that you send out and the tips that you send
you're passionate and enthusiastic and motivating
you're a good instructional leader and supportive of ideas
your meetings have purpose and learning targets
you intimidate us...but in a good way!
exciting to get to use Twitter
These responses fit in the COMMUNICATION category:
you respond to needs and concerns right away
you get back to people quickly
you keep people on the same page
you're consistent with the staff
you're consistent with message and follow through
you communicate what happens with kid issues
discipline is handled well
you have teachers back
if things don't get communicated you find a way to do it
you advocate for the school
you don't hold grudges
you don't get feelings hurt easily
we trust you
you're easy to talk to and people are comfortable talking to you
you've got your crap together
you're radar is dead on
you listen to the teacher and what their feedback is
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.