I usually have no problem planning professional development for my staff. I know where we’re headed. I find some videos, a few quotes, a couple of group activities. Then I toss them into a PowerPoint or Prezi and there you have it. However, something was different this summer. I sat down at my computer countless times to start planning a back to school professional development session for my teachers. Each time I just sat there. I was unable to come up with something great. I was tired of the usual. I knew my teachers needed more-they deserved more. So, I waited. That’s right, I just waited. I knew that the right idea would come to me. So, I waited some more. The days leading up to August 15th were fading away and the first day back to school for teachers was quickly approaching. I must admit I was getting worried. But then, I figured it out! I was going to force myself into an OS!M. If you’re not sure what that means you can check out Steve Farber's explanation! I was going to prove to my staff that I loved them enough, trusted them enough and believed in them enough to do something that wasn't just "outside of the box" but that couldn't be put in one at all.
I had started my summer by reading Radical Leap Re-Energized and then ended my summer listening to Steve Farber talk about Extreme Leadership. I decided that there’s no better time than now to take the plunge. So this morning, at my staff PD day I forced my OS!M. I didn’t plan a two hour PD; I didn’t plan collaborative activities. Instead I reminded my staff why they really come to school each day-it's because they want to do right by children. They want to change the world. And then, I challenged them to do so. I reminded each and every one of them that a leader is a safety net and that I will be that for them. I showed them a slide outlining Steve Farber’s guidelines for changing the world and told them to get started.
Then, I left. I picked up my things and walked out.
As we all get ready to start a new school year, I couldn’t help but get the biggest kick out of my staff today. I love them; every single one of them. You might be expecting a list of the top reason why I love them, but I have one story that perfectly sums up everything they stand for and it starts with a staff t-shirt…
Last May, I had this “great” idea that I would get the whole staff to give ideas about what to put on our staff shirt so that we could all wear the shirts to our district’s convocation ceremony on August 18th. So, I asked everyone to suggest ideas and I put everyone’s ideas into a Google form so the whole staff could vote on their favorite. The winner was chosen and I made an order form. Then…something happened that had NEVER, EVER happened before! People started to complain, some didn’t like the shirt idea while others did; some weren’t going to order shirts---it was just kind of weird. I was shocked. I remember thinking that maybe it was because it was the end of the year and this staff, who always works together to make really tough decisions, was just too worn out to do one more thing. So, we got a few new suggestions and had a revote. Still we had no luck making everyone happy. I was puzzled. So, I decided to make the final decision about the shirts. We made a new order form, the whole staff happily ordered shirts and we moved on.
Summer came and then in the blink of an eye it was time to begin thinking about the first day of school. In an email to the staff I asked if anyone was interested in wearing our shirts to Meet the Teacher Night in addition to our convocation ceremony. I got a couple of replies; no one really seemed to care. So I forgot about the email and assumed that teachers would do whatever they wanted.
And then today, the day before Meet the Teacher Night, everyone started emailing and stopping in my office to ask about the shirts.
Are we wearing them tomorrow AND Monday?
Are we just wearing them Monday?
What’s going on with these shirts?
It went on and on, until all of a sudden in dawned on me! This staff doesn’t need to be bothered with MINOR DECISIONS! IT’S MY JOB TO MAKE THESE KINDS OF DECISIONS SO THEY CAN DO THE IMPORTANT WORK.
My staff works so well together all school year. They make tough decisions that are best for kids every day. They NEVER, EVER complain. They never worry about what is best for them, but they always consider what is best for kids. I have had so many great laughs about the saga of the t-shirt today. And, the irony of it is that the shirt says it all--
At J.W. Reason we do what is best for kids.
Lesson learned-I’ll make the minor decisions and leave the really important ones to my amazing staff who I love so much!
For 365 days I have been preparing for this moment! It's finally here! I am so excited to share my #pb10for10 list but even more excited to read everyone else's lists. A special thanks to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for starting this fun tradition.
This book will give you the courage to pay attention to your ideas and help make them reality.
From the author of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. The world is made up of only numbers and after some time the numbers know they need something DIFFERENT. The book follows their journey through failure until the finally create something great!
Rollercoaster is an "oldie but a goodie". I don't leave home without it. It is the story of a little girl who is terrified to ride a roller coaster. The reader experiences her journey from fear to exhilaration. And, at the end, she wants to ride again!
Another great story of how failure and perseverance can lead to something GREAT!
Who wants a go-cart when you can have an AIRPLANE. Before you give your students directions to follow you should read this book!
This wordless picture book says it all. Imagination can take us on an amazing journey.
For those educators and students who think that one person can't make a difference...think again.
Another wordless picture book that can be used in the classroom to start a discussion about kindness and sacrifice.
A sweet little book that reminds everyone to spread some love.
I have saved the best for last. I have fallen in love with Hank and you will too. This is an absolute must for every classroom. And just when you think it can't get any better, he has a video...go get your tissues!
Because I love Hank SO much, I just have to let everyone know that Hank Has a Dream will be released on October 15, 2014. I'm not sure if I could possibly love the thought of this more!
Photo credit to amazon.com; goodreads.com; blogs.sjl.com; harpercollinschildrens.com
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.