Anna is retiring and it’s time for me to face it! March 31st is her last day and on Monday I have to start the interview process for our new secretary. Greg Hennes asked me what questions I would like to ask and in all honesty I have no idea. There is just no replacing Anna Deri. When I started out as the principal at JW, I had absolutely NO IDEA what I was doing. I’m not kidding-no idea at all. I was a 32 year old kindergarten teacher and literacy coach with four kids including 15 month old twin! I didn’t even have a real principal license and I had never, ever encountered the things that you all had been dealing with on a daily basis at JW. But, Anna took me under her wing, she taught me what to do in a way that made it seem like I was the one making the decisions even though I wouldn’t make a move without her approval.
How can there even be questions to ask that could help me find a new secretary who is as loyal, dedicated, caring, honest, funny, insightful and all around wonderful as Anna Deri? I just don’t think those questions exist. Anna is a true “one of a kind”. Who is going to refill my tissue box and alcohol wipe my phone with me even knowing?
I will keep you updated throughout this process and once we narrow the candidates to 3 finalists we will have a committee from JW interview the candidates as well.
My mom sent me this and it sums Anna up perfectly. There is just no other way to describe her.
I find it ironic that our Lead Now meeting last week was about clarity! Man did I miss the boat on getting out ahead of the Master Facility Plan. But, I learned so much.
Here is what I learned this week:
1-Don't avoid things that make you uncomfortable
2-RECOGNIZE when you are avoiding things that make you uncomfortable
3-Step up and face it head on
4-Ask questions when you don't understand
5-Seek clarity for yourself so you can be clear with others
6-Nothing is accomplished from BCD
I'll take what I learned and work to be a better leader!
Have a restful 4 day week my friends.
Thank you for your hard work.
I didn’t realize it until this school year but I think I started to reach a point in my career where I thought I knew everything. Teaching was easy to me and even most aspects of being a principal started to feel easy to me, which I never thought would ever happen! Then I started looking at data differently and the data slapped me in the face! As Lisa Callif says, “data doesn’t lie!” We started looking at it differently and we started changing things. Then the other day I came across this quote—“Be TEACHABLE. You are not always right!”
It’s a great reminder to me! And, I’m thinking that it’s a great reminder to many of you, too! Let’s continue to keep our minds open to new possibilities. The growth I’ve seen in us as a staff this year is incredible and as we just finished this second round of data team meetings it’s amazing to see the growth our students have made as well!
We are making lots of changes! It is fun and scary and stressful and fascinating and exciting all at the same time. For the past few weeks, I’ve found myself getting frustrated with some of my bosses who don’t quite seem to be understanding the direction we are going. I found myself saying, “They don’t understand because they’re not in it everyday. They need to be in our data teams and our classrooms and then they’ll feel the same way we do!”
Then I remembered this quote:
That’s right…if you’re not in the arena I don’t want you’re feedback. After thinking about this a little more I realized that there are many times that I give YOU feedback but I’m not actually in YOUR arena either. I shared these thoughts and the quote with Lisa and Amanda and they both agreed that if we are going to lead change, then we are going to need to get in the arena with you. So, we will each be taking a first grade reading group starting next week! We are going to try to implement the new things that our kindergarten, first grade and title teachers are working on in their classrooms.
Because if we’re not in the arena getting it handed to us, then you shouldn't be interested in our feedback! We're putting on our gloves on and jumping in!
II want to be a leader who pushes myself
I want to be a leader who is not afraid of the status quo.
I want to be a leader who is not satisfied.
Most importantly, I want to be a leader who is easy to follow but hard to please.
Read that again…
I want to be a leader who is easy to follow but hard to please.
That’s right-I strive to be hard to please because I want to be on a constant journey to ELITE. I first hear this quote that "leaders need to be easy to follow but hard to please" from none othe than Tim Kight. And from the moment he said it, I knew that THAT is who I wanted to (needed to) be if I was going to create an ELITE culture at our school. (Do you still think I'm crazy? That's okay, take a look at this post from Levi Nelson in which he explains what it means to be "easy to follow and hard to please.")
Remember, the journey to ELITE is a journey with no destination. If I allow myself to revel for too long in our success, then I stop growing. If I stop growing, we all stop growing. I’m not about to let that happen.
Right now—I’m extra hard to please. You may have noticed that I am in the process of unlearning and relearning everything I know about literacy. This journey has taught me a lot about myself and I am learning a lot about all of you. I am seeing how you react under pressure and how you respond to change. I am learning how I respond to push back and if I can do so in disciplined ways that keep us moving forward. I’m learning who BCDs in the face of change, who embraces it, who is a runner, who is a walker and who is ready to take their ball and go home. I love it. I love watching us all muddle in the uncomfortable.
This is place is UNIQUE! Our culture is UNIQUE. And, right now I’m celebrating it! We’re unique because we don’t wait to be told what to do. It’s not always easy to have a growth mindset but for those of you who are embracing the uncomfortable—I just have to say THANK YOU! Thank you for also being leaders who are hard to please. Thank you for not being comfortable with the status quo.
Remember—I won’t ask you to do anything that I’m not willing to do myself. Right now, I ask for you to continue to learn new things, continue to challenge the status quo and continue to be okay with not knowing! We are going to look back on this journey and be amazed by how far we’ve come.
We’re just in the muck right now so we aren’t able to see our own growth! Keep pushing through the muck and I’ll keep being hard to please!
This time of year it gets dark and cold and just kind of depressing. This time of year always gets me down.
I find myself wishing for summer and warm weather, for vacations and days at the swimming pool. Last week I wrote about my One Word, DISCIPLINE. I’m working on disciplining my self-talk and am making an intentional decision to recognize my below the line thinking! So, when I read this quote I couldn’t stop thinking about it:
“Learn to be happy right now. Otherwise, you will run out of time."
I have to make an intentional choice to stay positive, live in the moment and find the JOY in January! You might find yourself feeling like I do. It gets dark at 5:30 for crying out loud. But, we don't have time to waste. Let's make an intentional decisions to be happy right now! There's lots to be happy about, we just have to recognize it.
It's a new year and that means it's time for a new One Word. I've had so much fun talking to many of you this week about your new words. In past years, I have had to spend a long time finding my word. But, this year it popped into my head at the end of December and I tried to convince myself that this word was NOT the right word for me. But, no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't shake it!
My ONE WORD for 2020 is DISCIPLINE.
This word is hard! I wanted nothing more than to pick a word that would be a lot more fun, but no, DISCIPLINE is my word. So in 2020 I am focusing on:
-Disciplined thoughts and self-talk
-Disciplined responses to events
-Disciplined work ethic
-Disciplined eating habits
-Disciplined spending habits (farewell Amazon)
-Disciplined exercise habits
-and I'm sure I will uncover many more ares of my life in which I need to be more disciplined
My past words truly have changed my life. In the past, my words have been:
As I look back on my words I have distinct memories of how I have grown and changed because of each of them. What I know though is that my word alone isn't what help grow but instead the fact that I consciously focused on my word each day is what made my word come to life!
Jon Gordon says "What you focus on in life determines whether you will experience peace in your heart..." Joel Osteen reminds us that "If you want to be happy, you have to be happy on purpose. When you wake up, you can't just wait to see what kind of day you'll have. You have to decide what kind of day you'll have." When we choose a word, we make a choice to narrow our focus. We make a choice to search for the way our word will make our lives better. In doing so, our word comes to life and we are forever changed.
I hope that your word helps you focus on who you want to be this year!
Haven't chosen a word before and don't know how to get started? Click here for a quick video from Jon Gordon about choosing a One Word.
I feel like we could make our own holiday commercial about the crazy things that happen during the last week before break.
WE CAN DO THIS.
Thank you all for loving our kids even in their extra hyper and excited states of being. There are no other people who I'd rather spend the first 3 weeks of December with than all of you!
Enjoy this new SNL Holiday Skit if you haven't already seen it! And may your holidays be filled with "Memories You'll Love"!
The cutest thing happened on Tuesday! I was walking down the hall and came upon Hanan and a sweet little group of first graders heading into the media center for a Do the Math group. Hanan was holding Nancy's hand and two other littles were trailing behind them. I stopped and said, "Oh Miss Aljacksy, what a great group of kids you have there!" And, without missing a beat Nancy looked right and Hanan and said, "We are JUST like a family!"
It melted my heart! That is the definition of sense of belonging and love being an intervention!
Your students LOVE you! Don't forget that.
Did you know that in every organization people can be classified as runners, joggers or walkers?
When runners see a problem they immediately take action to solve it. That’s what we do! The joggers let the runners take off and as they watch. Then those joggers get moving too but just at a slower pace. And, then there are the walkers. They take a little bit longer to get moving by eventually come along.
We are a building full of mostly runners. We try new things, we aren’t afraid to fail, and we are willing to take risks. Do we always choose the correct path? No! But, that does not deter us.
On Thursday our K team met with Jackie, Amanda and me to learn about a way to implement phonics instruction in their classrooms. There was no push back, there was no one saying “I’m not doing that”. Why wasn’t there anyone digging in their heels? The answer is that because at JW we look at our data, we have honest conversations about it and then we take action! Our K team saw a gap, asked questions and said let’s do something about it. Over the next few weeks and months, they are going to get messy (as if K isn’t already messy enough)! They are going to try, reflect, fail at some things, succeed at lots of things and continue to refine their work. That’s what runners do.
This is just one example of the runners in our building!
Here are some others:
1-our EL team started co-teaching years ago
2-our Title teachers are using iSpire and questioning their teaching practices as they use LLI.
3-our 1st grade team is looking at new data as we progress monitor kids with DIBELS and look at our Heggerty assessments
4-2nd grade is implementing Heggerty and looking at writing differently
5-3rd-5th are all questioning the rigor of the work their kids do in writing and reading. They have changed the way guided reading looks in their classrooms and the way their kids are writing about reading.
6-Our spec ed team is working in data teams to improve their communication with classroom teachers
7-Our related arts team added safe spots to their classrooms and are participating in mental health and wellness data teams.
I love this place! I love trying new things together and being runners! Thank you for trusting each other enough to take risks together!