Reflections on a Sleepless Year and Being the Educator Our Students Need

The end of the academic year is quickly approaching, and with that comes the desire to reflect on the past year. Cliché, perhaps, but where did the time go? This past year was full of important moments, stressful situations, and unexpected events— and that was just in my personal life. The birth of a second child, the maturation of a toddler, major home renovations, and career shifts for my spouse filled this year with excitement and, honestly, a lot of stress. Add to that, sleepless nights courtesy of a newborn or a sick toddler, and well, you know. Dragging. Continue reading Reflections on a Sleepless Year and Being the Educator Our Students Need

Unlocking New Value In Classroom Observations

“Innovation is the change that unlocks new value.” – Jamie Notter

The classroom is a sacred space. Like most educators and administrators, I believe this wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, this mentality can lead to the classroom being a closed sacred space. Just as one might feel like an outsider in a church of a different denomination, or like an alien landing in a strange, new world, classroom observations often have had a similar feel for me. I am the administrator, the interloper, in someone else’s sacred space. I have done many observations and too often, it’s the same dynamic: I am in the back of the room, the teacher is on display, the teacher is curious and/or worried about what I am thinking, and we close the cycle with a perfunctory follow-up meeting.

No one won in this experience, and I was certain there was a better way. Continue reading Unlocking New Value In Classroom Observations

Hooked

Our English Department talks often about how to get our students to read— not read more, just read. Read. Something. Anything. I can easily empathize . . . with the students. As a teenager who struggled to find any joy in reading, I understand. Yet, as anyone who loves reading knows, it only takes one book to get you hooked.

Find a book written on a subject you love. Hooked.

Find a genre you love. Hooked.

Find an author who speaks to you. Hooked. Continue reading Hooked

The Productive Struggle (post 3 of 3)

We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience. – John Dewey, Educational Theorist

As an extrovert, I rely on others, especially in the midst of struggle. My reflections and thoughts become most constructive when I share them. For me, this is never more evident than at work, and this latest challenge proved to me the importance, not just of relying on others, but the importance of relying on the right others. As I wrote yesterday, I believe that having a steadfast circle to count on is essential to successful school leadership. Continue reading The Productive Struggle (post 3 of 3)

The Productive Struggle (post 2 of 3)

What if every element surrounding the problem was off-base?  What then?

At first this question seemed daunting, too daunting. I was spiraling, but I let this thought sink into my mind. Naturally, that led to other ideas and worries, but I forced myself to return to this thought again and again. What if this issue existed because every element surrounding the problem was wrong?  A shaky foundation yields shaky results. Continue reading The Productive Struggle (post 2 of 3)

The Productive Struggle (post 1 of 3)

I recently found myself in the midst of a major struggle. I will share the phases of this struggle in my next three posts over the next three days, starting with this one.

As a problem-solving, advice-giving, “It’s all in your perspective. Just reframe!” guy, this is hard for me to admit to myself and harder still to admit in a blog post. Continue reading The Productive Struggle (post 1 of 3)

Take the Time to Ask

If you want to know what a student thinks, just ask him.

Last week, our students completed yearly surveys about their current courses and teachers. I believe that students’ candid feedback is the greatest resource administrators and teachers have to identify areas of concern and facilitate improvements, both in our classrooms and on our campus.

Educators must always be searching for and creating venues to capture reliable data; it helps us to understand the effectiveness of teachers, curricula, and programs. And while I am not diminishing the value of traditional academic data and analysis, I am promoting the value of insight from students. Continue reading Take the Time to Ask

Teachers Who Make It Work

“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the presence of action in spite of that fear.” As both a high school student and athlete, this quote meant a great deal to me.  It encouraged me to press on in the face of self-doubt and adversity.

Later, as a young teacher, I focused on this quote, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  It grounded me and kept me inspired on difficult days when students smirked, lessons imploded, and objectives completely missed the mark.

Now, as a veteran teacher and school administrator, I reflect on the following quote. I find it apropos of everything. Weekly. Daily. And yes, sometimes hourly.

“If you want to hear God laugh, make a plan.”

Continue reading Teachers Who Make It Work