Better Today Than Yesterday And Better Tomorrow Than Today is a motto that we live by. As we continue along our journey to ELITE, we know it's important to strive to be better each and every day. I know for a fact that I am better today than I was yesterday and in the conversations that I've been blessed to have with many of you this week, I know that you too are better today than yesterday.
I'm sure you all know what brought about this growth! This week we were lucky enough to embark on our first every JW GROWS day. As I spent the day with you, observing the amazing teaching and learning that occurs in our school, I was humbled by your professionalism and vulnerability. You were willing to share what you want to try in your classrooms, your ideas for the future, your successes and your failures. You were willing to allow your colleagues in your room to watch your teaching and happily answered questions about why you made the choices you did with your students. This place is so special. You are all so special!
Here are some of my biggest take-aways from JW GROWS:
1. Teaching language-Explicit, clear teaching language and prompting is crucial.
2. Feedback is key-Sharing throughout the reading, writing and math workshop holds children accountable, reinforces your teaching points and provides valuable feedback to all students.
3. Redefinition is occuring-Ipads have truly changed education-from book clubs to writers' workshop to title reading we are reading the REDEFINITION phase of technology use. Students are engaging in book clubs via technology and even taking their learning with them digitally as they travel from reading group back to their classrooms.
4. Our students are engaged-The expectations across this building are extremely clear and extremely consistent. Our students are highly engaged in their learning and very little misbehavior occurs.
5. No matter where Scott goes, he finds a unicorn.
As we continue to strive to be Better Today, I encourage you to reach out to your colleagues and visit classrooms again. We will do JW GROWS again? Absolutely! But, you don't have to wait for us to organize it for you. Email your colleagues. Ask each other questions. We are one another's greatest resource.
Here is your staff update for January 19th.
It’s amazing how much power one single word can have. Like me, many of you choose ONE WORD to guide you throughout the year. However, for the first time, we have a word that is guiding our staff. I feel like there is even greater power in collectively working on something with a team. And, in my opinion there is NOTHING better than working with THIS team from JW!
As you know, we have been focusing on the word GROWTH during the 2017-2018 school year. As I planned this blog post I was able to reflect on all of the growing we’ve done this year; check it out (in no particular order):
-Monthly mini data teams have helped us continuously reflect on our practice and refine our teaching
-Title teachers meeting directly with classroom teachers to align practice
-Gifted clustering-teachers working on 30 hours of PD and collaborating with one another to provide new learning experiences for kids
-ELL coteachers recreating what instruction looks like in the general education classroom
-Title teachers incorporating technology into small group instruction
-Twenty-four JW YOUniversity courses offered to our students
-R Factor becoming part of our daily language with a direct focus weekly in every classroom
-Observe Me Challenge-with HUGE participation-this was voluntary and you chose to participate
-At least 10 groups have come through our school to learn about everything from best practice to culture to blended learning
-We started a World Language program and are offering Arabic
-Donors choose projects
-A garden grant
-A change from Safety Patrol to Kindness Krew
-Power Hour offerings for students
-And boy did we grow today as we dismissed 500 kids 2 hours early with very short notice!
And…something that I am BEYOND excited about…we will finally do our JW Grows Challenge on January 17th!
As you embark on the JW Grows Challenge, next week, I hope that you all really take the time to enjoy the opportunity to learn and GROW from your colleagues. Lisa and I will be accompanying you on your visits and helping facilitate your debrief time. This day is a chance for us to dig in to the practices that occur in our school. We will all have a unique opportunity to learn the BEST educators in the district. What a gift that is.
I am so excited to continue to GROW with all of you this year. As I work to grow as your leader I ask that you fill out this form and share your expectations of me as a leader. I will analyze your answers and create a list of expectations that I will ask you to rate me on. Ten of you filled it out already but I’d love to have more of you participate.
Here is your STAFF UPDATE for January 12.
I love this time of year. Winter break has just come to an end and I’ve had time to relax and refresh. The break helped me feel ready to jump into January with a clear head so that I could reflect on the previous year and make plans for the future.
This year, I spent time intentionally thinking about not only what I want to DO in 2018, but most importantly who I want to BE.
Here are the questions that I’ve asked myself as I begin to look ahead to 2018.
I challenge you to slow down, reflect and look ahead. Remember, January is a great time to hit the reset button. You aren’t bound to be who you were in 2017; you aren’t tied to the behaviors and habits of the past year. As Marshall Goldsmith author of Triggers says, “Fate is the hand of cards we are dealt; choice is how we play those cards.”
What choices will you make in 2018?
Here is your STAFF UPDATE for January 5th.
Teacher, secretaries, custodians, principals, and anyone who works with kids this time of year knows the crazy. If we can't laugh at it we'll cry. So, enjoy this...
Here is your staff update for December 15th.
I spent Monday through Wednesday in Dallas, Texas. It was an amazing trip, but I couldn’t help but feel guilty being away from all of you for three days.
As I spent time away studying the culture at Southwest Airlines, I was able to reflect on our culture at J.W. Reason. We are among the lucky minority who are able to work in a place in which people care about each other, treat each other kindly and most importantly share the same values. In Hilliard, we live by three values-Stand up and Own It, Power of the Team; and Passion for Growth. At Southwest Airlines the team members also live by three core values-Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, and Fun-LUVing Attitude. The people at Southwest Airlines live and breathe these values. I could see, hear and feel these values as I spent time with the team members at Southwest.
What I loved best about Southwest Airlines is that not only did all employees live by their values but the employees also developed expectations for their leaders. These expectations were posted all over the building. Leaders could state the expectations and share examples of ways in which they worked to meet these expectations each day.
I challenge you to start thinking about expectations that you have for me as your leader. My hope is that J.W. Reason staff will work to help develop expectations for me and then provide me with honest feedback along the way as I work to meet and exceed the expectations you create.
Take a few minutes to share your expectations of me on this form.
Here is your staff update for December 8th.
Our jobs are stressful. Our jobs take a toll on us mentally, physically and emotionally. We are invested in our work and our students. We are on a journey to ELITE and we are relentless in our pursuit to grow and be better and do better. However, throughout this journey we have to take time to laugh at ourselves! We are so lucky to work with such amazing people. It’s important that we enjoy our time with one another. So, while you continue to work so hard for your students, remember to give yourselves permission to laugh a little!
Throughout the month of December you are challenged to find one of three “Gulley on a Shelf” elves around the school. If you find one, bring it to the office and you will get to choose a prize from Mr. Smalley elf’s sack!
Enjoy. And, remember to laugh a little!
Here is your staff update for December 1st.
Everyone of us is a leader. We are leaders on our teams, in our families, in our classrooms. We each own 20 square feet of this school district and we are all leaders within that 20 square feet. But leadership is not just a title. It is not a power bestowed upon us. Within our 20 square feet we control our behavior and our culture. As a leader, we must understand ourselves so that we can continue to work to be the best version of ourselves.
I had the pleasure of spending some time with Tim Kight on Monday after our assembly. He reminded me of a training that he conducted with the HCSD admin team two years ago. The training helped up learn more about our leadership style. During our conversation I was reminded of how much I learned about myself by analyzing my style.
Over the weekend, I challenge you to take some time to look at the following documents. Be honest with yourself about yourself and determine your style. Read about the strengths and weaknesses that come along with your leadership style. Then think about your behavior.
Reflect on how your style can help you and how it can negatively impact your culture and behavior.
Here is your staff update for November 17th.
I was planning to write a blog post about how incredibly proud I am of this staff. In preparation for the blog post, I decided to look up the dictionary definition of the word “pride”. As I was reading the definitions, I couldn’t help but notice this definition from Merriam Webster in which “pride” is defined as a company of lions or a group of lions forming a social unit.
As I read this definition, my thinking changed. I started to reflect on the connections that we have to one another and the great team that we have created here. My focus for the blog post shifted from being about how proud I am of all of you, to how proud I am of the team that we have become.
Just like a group of lions that work together to survive; we have formed trusting relationships that allow us to strive to be our best. We speak the same language. We share the same values. We are a “unit”. Think about it, we spend more time together than we do with our own families.
As I walked around our school with two visiting administrators on Thursday, I couldn’t have been more proud to be part of this staff. What we have is special. It can’t be found everywhere.
As I was sharing your classrooms with our visitors, I made a conscious effort to enjoy the moment. It’s not often that any of us take time to slow down and celebrate the beauty of our moments. And let me tell you, the moments you create for students are truly worth celebrating.
So, thank you! Thank you for the work you do. Thank you for the time and energy that you put in each and every day. I am beyond proud to be a member of this unit.
I am proud to be one of us.
Here is your staff update for November 10th.
We have been working so hard to build our R Factor skills. Last week I had the privilege of being part of a group who provided R Factor training the entire staff at Milton Union schools in Springfield. I was in charge of teaching R1-Press Pause. It was a great refresher for me and really got me thinking and reflecting about how we all use R1-Press Pause.
For many of us, it is easy to press pause, especially in an uncomfortable or potentially uncomfortable situation. This doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes let my emotions take over causing me to forget to (or choose not to) press pause. But, just as forgetting to pause can be detrimental, so can pressing pause and staying there for too long.
When I was reviewing my presenter notes last week, this quote stuck out to me and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it:
Your level of comfort is not a reference point for what you should do.
On our journey to ELITE we must pause so we can see our events with clarity and courage. Courage is such an important piece of the R1!
This week at school I was able to witness a courageous example of two staff members who PRESSED PAUSE with courage, GOT THEI MINDS RIGHT and then STEPPED UP so that they could make steps to improve a difficult situation. These two staff members could have gotten stuck on pause. They could have let animosity build. But instead, they responded to their event with courage. They did not let their level of comfort (and in this case, their level of discomfort) be a reference point for what they should do. Because of their willingness to STEP UP and be vulnerable, they have created a new and very positive E for one another.
Take some time to reflect on how you PRESS PAUSE.
Do you forget to pause and let emotions guide you?
Do you get stuck on pause?
Do you let your level of comfort be a reference point for your RESPONSE?
Pressing pause is a gateway skill in R Factor. How well you implement R1 will dictate your successful R to any E.
Here is your staff update for November 3rd.
We have been building our R Factor behaviors in Hilliard City Schools for several years. My staff and I have been extremely intentional about teaching these behaviors to our students. This year is our second year of R Factor student training. As a building principal, it is fascinating to see how this training has impacted the culture of our school.
On Wednesday, two second grade boys were sent inside from recess because they were pushing each other and acting all around Below the Line. I began speaking to the boys and had to take a moment so that I could press pause and get my mind right. In my very brief moment of pause, I was able to think clearly about the outcome that I wanted the for this situation. It wasn't that I wanted the boys to be in trouble or lose recess. What I really wanted was for them to act Above the Line at recess so they could have a fun time with their friends. Even though I had taken time to get my mind right, I was still surprised by what came out of my mouth next. I looked at both boys and in my best "disappointed principal voice" I said, "Well, this is on you, you own your 20 square feet so I'm going to ask you a question. Do you want a consequence for your behavior or would you like to accept a challenge?" Very quickly each boy said, "A challenge!"
So, I talked to them about their impulsive Below the Line behavior. We discussed what it means to be on auto-pilot. They agreed that their behavior fit the descriptions. Then we talked about what it means to be intentional and on-purpose. They easily rattled of many on-purpose behaviors that they could have participated in at recess. So, then, I gave them their challenge. I challenged the boys to go to recess the next day and make on-purpose, intentional decisions to be Above the Line. They eagerly accepted this challenge and happily headed out the door.
The next day rolled along as usual and to be honest, I'd forgotten about this challenge until I say two red-faced, sweaty seven year olds appear in my office at 12:45 to give me their recess report with big grins on their faces. I brought the boys into my office and called their teacher in to join me. The boys could barely contain their excitement as they shared all of their Above the Line behaviors. I'm sure you could imagine what they said. But the rest of the story is even better. Their teacher and I asked them how they felt after having such a positive recess. These two out of breath little boys explained how happy they were and that because they were Above the Line, they noticed their friends were being Above the Line, too! Next, we talked about R6-Build Skill. The boys quickly realized that the skill they were building was being positive leaders. They decided that they wanted to try this again and continue to report the impact of their Above the Line behavior.
My challenge to my staff and to myself is to continue to think about the OUTCOMES that we hope for when we are presented with EVENTS. Then, press pause and get our minds right so we can choose the most Above the Line R for the situation.
What if we give more children recess challenges? How would that change the culture of our playground?
This experiment proved that when children are INTENTIONAL about their actions they can and they will make the Above the Line choice.
Here is your staff update for October 27.