Friday, October 21, 2016

I May Have Left the Classroom, But I Still Have Students

The number of times I have written and deleted the first sentence of this post are too numerous to count and the reason behind the struggle escapes me. I guess, as I reflect on the three short months I have been the Principal of MJHS, I hate to admit that I forgot this one simple truth: that even though I am no longer in the classroom, I still have students. My teachers are my students and just like the kids I did teach, they have their own unique gifts, talents, and strengths that need to be sharpened and developed if they are going to reach their full potential. 

My quest to find research that would help me become a teacher of teachers turned up absolutely nothing. Even so, the time spent Googling my topic was not in vain, as I did find a very intriguing blog post in Connected Principals. This post titled, Principals ARE Teachers presents a very strong argument about why principals should teach one or two classes as part of their daily responsibility and uses our passion for teaching as the number one reason we should.

While I cannot say that teaching a one or two ELA classes is in my immediate future, I must agree that I am bursting with excitement every time an opportunity to cover or teach a class is open for me. I enjoy the time I have with the students and I love how covering a class allows me to escape the looming deadlines and must dos awaiting me in my office.

Please do not get me wrong, I accept the reality of my current situation. I accept the fact that my classroom now consists of approximately thirty plus adults learners who need me just as much as my students did. Even so, I am at a loss for where to begin and that is the reason for this post. I am reaching out to you, my fellow educators and mentors, seeking both feedback and guidance for how to truly become the leader/teacher my staff needs.

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Struggle is Real: One Admin's Battle for Lesson Plans

Why do teachers write lesson plans? Is it for me, their principal, or for them? 

If you had asked me this question 8 years ago, I would have told you without hesitation that the lesson plans I wrote while in the classroom were for me. I did not write them for my principal or any other admin that wanted to stop in a see what I was doing. 

Well, today the tables have turned. I am now the admin marching up and down the halls trying to get a pulse on what's happening in my building. And unlike the administrators I had when I was in the classroom, I actually reference my teacher's plans when I visit their class. I use these plans to help inform what I am seeing and to guide my weekly write-ups where I highlight what students are learning in class each week. But lately, trying to get an idea of what students are learning has become more and more difficult to decipher, which is why I decided to write this blog post. 

Lesson Plan Survey Results.PNG

Above I have included the results of my staff survey regarding what a well-written lesson plan contains. As you can see, my very small staff of 20 educators do not agree on what a well-written plan consist of. Even so, it is my job as the instructional leader in the building to streamline this process and get everyone on the same page.

So why should I ask my teachers to write lesson plans and require that certain components be a part of them? I now believe lesson plans should be required because teaching cannot and should not be winged. As teachers, it is our responsibility to know before we begin a lesson what we want students to know, understand or do; what we plan to do to get them to be able to demonstrate this learning; and how their level of learning will be assessed.

Is there more to writing a lesson plan than considering these three factors, of course, there are. But, we must begin somewhere and this is where my staff and I will begin. From this point forward, all lesson plans must include these three components, something my cooperating teacher Mrs. D called OAA; they must include
  1. a lesson objective
  2. the activity(ies) students will complete to achieve said objective
  3. any assessment the teacher will use to gauge his or her students' level of understanding
Would love to know what other administrators/districts are requiring for lesson plans. Feel free to share in the comment section below.

Until next time...