I have had such a great time coming around to rooms and filling out your #jwgrows forms. If I haven't gotten to you yet, I will hopefully get to you soon!
Here are some of the goals that teachers in our building have.
I have learned so much for doing the #jwgrows observations that I want to make sure you have time to do some, too! So, I am CANCELLING the staff meeting on October 26th in the hopes that you do the following:
1. Find 2 people to come in and observe YOU.
2. Find 2 people to observe.
3. Reflect on your PAP
At our November 10th staff meeting, we will share what we've learned by observing each other for our #jwgrows challenge and we will reflect on our PAP progress.
Remember in order to be Better Today Than Yesterday and Better Tomorrow Than Today we must discipline ourselves to focus on becoming the BEST VERSION OF US! Observation and reflection are two ways that we can continue to grow.
I can't wait to hear about what we all learn from our #jwgrows challenge.
Here is your staff update for October 19th.
In the past, I’ve shared with you the analogy of a marathon runner hitting the 20th mile. In case you don’t remember this analogy, I’ll share it again.
The 20th mile is where the majority of marathon runners drop out of the race, not the in first mile and not in the last, but the 20th. I bring this up to you now because we are closing in on our 20th mile. We started the school in a dead sprint and we aren’t slowing down anytime soon. We’re coming off a week in which we had visitors three out of five days!
Next week is conference week; our 20th mile. We’re stressed, we’re tired, and we’re spread too thin. At this point in the school year the thing that separates the average from the ELITE is our attitude and our mindset. Let’s acknowledge that this upcoming week is going to be challenging and then, let’s resist the urge to BCD. Let’s resist the urge to be short with one another. Let’s change the story we’re telling ourselves and remember that we GET to meet with our students’ parents. And, we GET to share all of the amazing things our students are doing.
I’ve had so much fun sitting in on conferences with many of you. Let’s go into next week with a positive mindset. We’re a team and we’re in this together. Lean on your colleagues. Help someone who’s stressed and accept help when you’re feeling stressed. Let’s not tap out in our 20th mile. Let’s push through and we’ll come out on the other side as a stronger team and further down the road on our journey to ELITE.
Here is your staff update for October 13th.
The Lead Now Framework has been guiding me as I work as your principal this school year. Recently, I’ve studied the area of COMPETENCE. Through my reading, I’ve learned that competence is technical trust. It is established through repeated experience that you all have with me as we solve problem and get things done. (Also known to us as GSDing!)
But what I love most about the area of competence is this quote:
Not only does competence involve what a leader does but more importantly how the leader is able to make other people better.
When I read this statement I was reminded that we are on the right journey.
You have taken a big step this year as you have made yourselves vulnerable by participated in our #jwgrows challenge. Your signs are up with your goals posted. And, many of you have started observing each other. You are all competent leaders. There is no better way to make others better than to take the opportunity to watch each other as we teach. I know that getting and giving feedback can feel uncomfortable, but we will all be better for it. So, embrace the discomfort and take the opportunity to become better.
We ARE on a journey to ELITE! Keep up the great work. I will continue to analyze my own leadership so that I can create conditions for you to be at your best.
Please tweet your pictures and thoughts from your classroom observations using #jwgrows in your tweets.
Here is your staff update for October 6.
This staff is amazing. Have you noticed the amount of visitors we get around here? Everyone wants to come and see the incredible things that are happening at our school. This week I’ve been wondering if it’s possible that being in the spotlight can cause us to go blind to the fact that change might still need to happen.
Could feeling like things are going really well actually cause us to become average or worse? It’s important to reflect on this and make sure that we don’t allow ourselves to slip.
Have you said or thought any of the following things lately?
1-I do everything right.
2-I do that already.
3-I know this.
4-I’ve always done it this way.
This week we had our first ever half day math data teams. And, we got uncomfortable. Personally, I love nothing more than that uncomfortable feeling and then working through that feeling and getting to the other side where change happens. However, when it comes to math, we haven’t had the luxury of spending a lot of time being uncomfortable together. We’ve met for math data teams during planning time and staff meetings, but we have not spent large chunks of time digging into our practice. This week, that all changed. I watched this staff dive into amazing conversations about the way we question kids, the data that we need to look at more closely and the extensions and interventions we need to provide to our kids. I heard celebrations and concerns and I saw everyone get uncomfortable. I was reminded that even when you’re achieving at a high level, it’s important to take a step back and realize that we’re not perfect, we’re not right all the time and we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to admit that we have things to learn.
I’ve never worked in a place where I’ve felt more comfortable being vulnerable. I’ve never worked with a staff that I trust more. When you get to the edge and you’re feeling really uncomfortable, what are you going to do? Is this your internal dialogue?
1-I do everything right.
2-I do that already.
3-I know this.
4-I’ve always done it this way.
Or, are you ready to take a leap?
Here is your staff update for September 29th.
“You become what you choose.” These words have stuck with me since I heard Tim Kight say them this summer at an administrator retreat.
I have reflected on who I am and who I want to be. Then on Monday morning a colleague of mine ran into my office and said “Can you name your personal values? And, I mean without thinking about it, can you just rattle them off.” I stared at him blankly for a moment, paused to think and then said, “…No!”
And, ever since that moment, my head has been swirling as I’ve tried to pinpoint my own personal values. For the past few days, I have opened my mind to things that inspire me. I have paid close attention to what drives me and what I struggle with. I have revisited some of my favorite books, watched some TED Talks and just talked to people about who I want to be. I think I have landed on three core personal values:
As I work each day to live out my personal values, I challenge you to identify yours. I challenge you to broadcast your values to the others so they can hold you accountable for who you choose to become.
Here is your staff update for September 22.
I often write about how much I love my staff and this year is no exception. The selfless acts I witness every day truly make my heart feel like it could burst. I love seeing the way we all work as a team; the way we have each other’s backs and the way we truly care about one another. But, today I feel like we reached a new level; a level often reached only by family.
It all started when I hurried to the bathroom. As many educators know, going to the bathroom is a luxury in an elementary school. And at my school it’s an even greater luxury because we have quite a lack of staff bathrooms. So, I was very excited when I fast-walked into the staff workroom to find an unoccupied bathroom. I had to make my way through a group of teachers who were hurriedly laminating, paper cutting, team planning and problem solving, but no one had stopped me as I made my way to my final destination. I smiled and retreated inside for a 30 second vacation. As I was reveling in the momentary silence, I quickly heard the familiar sound of my name being called. All of a sudden, I realized that what I heard was a teacher asking me a question as she yelled through the bathroom door. I couldn’t help but yell back, “Are you seriously talking to me when I’m in the bathroom? I swear this is just like being at home!” When I opened the door I was greeted with the laughter of a workroom full of teachers. The culprit however, was hiding from me.
So, to say that we love each other is an understatement. Power of the team was taken to another level today. And, I must say, there are no people who I’d rather communicate with through bathrooms doors.
Stay ELITE my friends and know that my door is always open…unless of course it’s closed, and then you can just yell through it.
Here is your staff update for September 15.
Every time I hear this phrase I think of the scene from Christmas vacation when Chevy Chase greases up the metal sled and shoots down the hill.
I seriously laugh out loud every time I think about it. I can’t help but describe our first three weeks of the school year in no other way than “comin’ in hot”!
Today I found myself making mental notes of all the things we have accomplished in 3 short (even though they may have seemed long) weeks of school. In fact, this evening I was driving to a football game with my mom and started listing the things that have happened so far this school year. My mom sat in the passenger seat with her mouth open. She was in complete awe of the stories I shared. I couldn’t help but laugh when I said, “Yep, we came in hot!”
As I continued with my list, not only was I exhausted, but I was also extremely proud. In case you’ve forgotten, here are some things that we’ve accomplished in 14 days:
Red Carpet Clap In
Solar Eclipse viewing
VBO roll out
Teaching 100 kindergartners to eat lunch and go to recess
Welcoming 60 new students
Starting a World Language Program
JW YOUniversity Planning
Mini Data Teams
F and Ps
Welcoming new teachers
Training our Ks to get off the bus and find their classrooms ALONE
RTI tab reviews
iPad Roll Out
R Factor Monday Plans
Biz Town Plans
Data Team Leaders Meeting
Parent phone calls
Tons of new IEPs
And much, much more…
We are a WELL-OILED MACHINE or maybe a better description is that we are a
WELL-GREASED SLED that's COMIN’ IN HOT!
No matter what you call us, I love being part of this team. Thanks for all you do. Take some time to celebrate all the good that has happened for kids in such a short amount of time. Have a great weekend.
Here is your staff update for September 8.
You Become What You Choose. –Brian Kight
Each morning when you wake up, you have a choice. You can be anyone you want to be. You can be the driving force behind positivity and joy. You can be okay with just existing and being average. Or, you can believe that things are terrible and expect the worst.
If you’re like me, there are many mornings that you wake up without making an intentional choice for any of these options. You go about your morning and your day letting events happen to you. If you’re like me you have some good days, some bad days and some just okay days.
But, what if you woke up with intention. What if you woke up and took 5 minutes to focus on your goals. Five minutes to write them down, think about them and prepare yourself for a day that helps you move in the direction of those goals. How would your life change? How would your relationships change? What if you focused on loving what you do each day?
Each day, at J.W. Reason we are working to be “Better Today Than Yesterday, Better Tomorrow Than Today”. The better tomorrows start with the intentional choices that each one of us makes about who we choose to be. The people who we choose to be will either raise or lower the averages of those around us.
Listen to the August 16th podcast from Coyte Cooper as he talks about focusing our minds, controlling our emotions and how everything can change when we are intentional about who we want to be. This podcast is the story of Coyte’s TEDx Hilliard preparations.
I had the pleasure of driving him to the airport and got to hear him talk about what a learning experience the TED Talk was for him. Coyte is also the author of Make Your Mark. His book changed my life. I hope you can take 15 minutes to listen to his podcast and remember, “You Become What You Choose”.
Here is the staff update for September 1.
I have written about the power of words many times. I truly believe in and value the impact that words have on others. This summer, I attended a conference in which Michelle Gielan, author of Broadcasting Happiness gave the keynote. During her inspiring talk, Michelle said three words that I will never forget. When I heard these words it was as if everything happening around me stopped and the weight of their meaning poured into my soul. I didn’t even have to write them down because in that very moment, what she said forever changed who I was.
“Words change people.” –Michelle Gielan
Take minute and really let this simple phrase sink in. “Words change people.”
When I say these words I can actually feel them inside of me. We often say, “be careful what you say”, or “words have an impact”. But, never had I considered that “words change people”.
Not long after Michelle’s keynote I stood in the main office of my school greeting families and welcoming them on Meet the Teacher Night. I was helping answer questions about bus stops and teacher assignments and I didn’t pay much attention when the mom of an Arabic speaking student walked in along side of the mom of an English speaking student. I did notice that their children were laughing and playing side by side. But then I realized that the English speaking mother was carrying the other mother’s toddler for her. I soon discovered that these two moms had become friends over the summer because the live in the same neighborhood. And, to top is off the English speaking mother was using a translation app on her phone to talk to the Arabic speaking mom so she could help her navigate all of the beginning of the year forms that come with starting school.
This story is heartwarming to say the least, but there is more to it. Just four months prior to this encounter on Meet the Teacher Night, I had another encounter with the same English speaking mom. Only this time she was expressing how uncomfortable and downright annoyed she was with all of the people in her neighborhood who couldn’t speak English. We had a heated and honest conversation. By the end of it I had convinced her that she should change her perspective about her neighbors and maybe try to meet some of them, bake them some cookies and welcome them to America. Yes, I actually said those words to her. She hugged me and said she appreciated me taking the time to talk to her without judgment. Needless to say, I chalked that up as a great day and would have been happy for the story to end there. Little did I know that in just a few short months, I would find this same mom taking another mom, one who didn’t speak English, under her wing.
As I watched this mom and her new friend work together in the office on that Meet the Teacher Night, I was once again reminded that words change people. And, as this amazing mom turned to leave the office she hesitated for a moment, looked me directly in the eye and said, “Remember our conversation last school year? What you said changed my life.”
I’ve written this post for one reason and one reason only, to remind myself and everyone who reads it that words really do change people. Our words are more than just heard and forgotten. Our words stay long after we’re finished saying them.
Our words change people. How do you choose to use your words?
Here is your staff update for August 25th, 2017.
It's been an amazing year. We all worked so hard for kids each and every day! Thank you for all that you've done this year.
Enjoy this very short video that perfectly captures how tired we all are!
Here is your staff update for May 26th!