We use grades as a form of feedback. An “A” represents mastery of a concept or an idea – superior work in an area. At the other end of the spectrum, an “F” represents a lack of mastery or poor quality of work. In another week, our students will receive their grades for the first nine weeks of school. We will have finished the first quarter of their educational journey for the year. In my latest, “Coaches’ Notes” to my staff, I challenged them to reflect on their effort, lesson planning, and student performance thus far. The question was, “what grade would you give yourself?” I strive to be a leader who is reflective and leads by example. Here are my reflections.
This nine weeks, in terms of effort, I tried to lead from the heart. Realizing after many raised eyebrows and questioning glances, that this is much easier said than done. In terms of effort, I would say I am giving it my all and then some. I strive to bring my most positive self to students, staff, and parents daily (even if I spilled coffee on my pants in the car or left an important book on my nightstand that I needed for the day). Regardless, my effort and attitude have stayed relatively high. I admit that I continue to be aware that sometimes my actions are misunderstood, but until we build a level of trust (of which I am consistently conscious) that may continue to happen. Bringing together people, leaders, and students from a variety of backgrounds and experiences takes time. Announcing that “we are a team” does not make us one. Teams are forged through the work, relationships, obstacles and successes. I will gladly take them all for good of our team and students.
Planning as a first year principal has been a whirlwind event. This will be an area that I continue to work through because planning for a high school requires more than just the principal and administrative team. There are so many different groups that assist with the effective running, programming, and development of the school. Having the right people in place and expressing what our school needs will be an area of focus as we move in to the second nine weeks. As leadership, we’ve communicated our vision and mission but recognize the need to keep the momentum in the face of grades, assessments, lesson planning, and more. Planning requires keeping the “main thing…the main thing.” It also requires gaining the support of others in making our goals a reality.
Student performance is another area where I will continue to work. For me our state testing is but one way we measure student achievement. However, it can’t be ignored because it is the most prominent way the state and many others measure the success of our school. It’s a challenge to help teachers understand the harsh dichotomy we face. I am not speaking about scores, lesson plans, and common assessments, and data because the focus is on scores. I am speaking about all those things because the focus is on students. I want us to know students are better because of our work. I want us to know that students are learning and growing because we have planned dynamic lessons that engage them and cause learning. I want students to feel successful in the classroom, on assessments, on the court, and the field because they have great educators who bring out the best in them. However, to move from where we’ve been to where we want to go it takes three things.
- An attitude and belief that it can be done.
- A growth mindset approach to how we teach and how students learn.
- It takes holding up a mirror to our practice daily and asking the hard questions of ourselves so that we can be the best models for our students.
I said all that to say, that I would give myself a “C” working towards a solid “B.” It takes humility to lead a know that you have more to learn. I think that’s what eventually makes good leaders great. I aspire to be more every day. A friend gave me a reminder that I keep on my desk. It says, “I’m not here to be average. I’m here to be awesome.” I will continue to ask questions and reflective as I strive to live our school vision of “preparing our students for tomorrow’s future.”