Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Why I am Adding My Twitter Handle and my Blog Domain to My Resume and Business Cards

After much thought and consideration, I believe the next logical step for my resume is to add both my Twitter handle and my blog domain names to it. The reason I am strongly considering this is simple, I want potential employers to see that my passion for education extends beyond the four walls of my respective institution. 

I want them to know that...

  1. the person I am on paper is simply a portion of who I am in total.  
  2. I hold both myself to the same standards I expect of those I am charged with leading to meet.
  3. my passion for learning and growing as an educator is not limited to an occasional district or regional office training and has nothing to do with meeting the often low requirements of my state's recertification process. 
  4. my growth as an educator is a daily adventure that I have placed a high priority upon.  
  5. as a result, I have had the distinct privilege of connecting with other learners from around the world who not only share my passion for learning but challenge me to grow beyond that which I am comfortable. 

And if the reasons given above are not great reasons to add these taglines to your resume, then consider this, most evaluation instruments from Danielson to Marzano to my state's Performance Standards for School Leaders have an area set aside to rate one's contribution to the profession. Which means, there is an expectation that we are contributing to the conversation on some level, and it has been my experience that excellence and or distinguished is something that only awaits those who make this a regular and consistent practice. 

So for those of you who are not yet comfortable with this approach, I do understand. As my decision to share this part of myself with those considering me for employment could backfire. Especially, if they find after reading a few of my post or Tweets, that our philosophy of education does not mesh. Even so, I will not let this stop me from doing what I believe is the next step for me in the development of a more accurate and progressive resume and business card. 

Until next time....

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Open Agenda Staff Meeting

This year I have tried something I have always wanted to do, but just didn't have the right ingredient, okay people, to do so. But this year, for some reason I am truly unaware of, I do. This year I have been blessed to work with a group of educators who take full advantage of my open agenda staff meetings. 

So what exactly is an open agenda staff meeting?

Notepad, Pen, Notebook, Business

It is a meeting where I, the principal, do not have full control over what is discussed in our staff meetings. In fact, every person on my team has the right and freedom to add a topic of discussion to the agenda. And to my surprise, a majority of the topics submitted have been geared toward improving teaching and learning. Some of the topics that have been presented thus far include data review, staff socials, RTI, Special Education and how to effectively maintain records regarding accommodations and modifications, etc. Any topic that can be answered before the meeting is done so write on the agenda. 

When I say that our staff meetings are well attended, that is an understatement. My teachers actually look forward to our staff meetings and look forward to the sometimes candid conversations we find ourselves having. My teachers know that it is perfectly okay to disagree with me and they do not fear retribution for having done so. 

Do I work in a utopia? Absolutely not! We still have a lot of work to do and I am so happy that were are eager to get it done. 

So exactly where did I learn this open meeting agenda idea?

From my Superintendent! He is definitely a man who practices what he preaches. He believes in shared leadership and encourages everyone from admin to teachers to find their niche and run with it. In fact, if you were to visit one of our district's committee meetings you would not be able to identify the admin from the teachers. At the table, all voices are equal, even when it comes to making financial decisions about what we as a district are going to invest in. I will never forget the day when the teacher's at our last district RTI (Response to Intervention - yes we are still catching up) meeting expressed their disdain for a particular program we purchased the year before. I won't forget this meeting because it was at this meeting where my Superintendent said, "I knew this all along, but I had to let you come to this conclusion. So now what do we do?"

Some might find this kind of leadership troubling and that's okay. For I have learned after 16 years in this field, that what floats my boat, won't always float yours and vice versa. But for those of you interested in exploring this concept further, let's chat and see how we might sharpen each other's skills and make school a better place for all parties involved. 

Until next time...

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Exodus - The Real Reason Teachers are Leaving the Profession

Earlier this week I found myself engrossed in a Facebook post about teachers who quit in the middle of the school year. The range of emotions expressed by colleagues who worked alongside these teachers varied. Some expressed compassion for the teacher who had quit, while others expressed anger and resentment. 

There were even those who had resigned chiming in on the post. Individuals who decided that it was in their best interest and the kids they served to sever the relationship earlier rather than later.

While the reasons for leaving, the kids and the administration, do not come as a surprise; I am amazed by the immediacy of these decisions. I say this because I remember wanting to quit at the end of my first year of teaching. I remember feeling defeated for having thought about quitting. I even remember the reasons I wanted to quit. But unlike my contemporaries, I just could not bring myself to walk out, to cut my ties right away, even though I was miserable.

Looking back, I am glad I decided to stay; and I am especially grateful for the people who were divinely placed in my life to talk me off the ledge. Individuals who knew first hand what I was going through and who made a decision to check on me regularly despite their own battles. Individuals who reminded me often why I chose to become a teacher and why quitting was not the answer. I truly believe that had it not been for them, I'd be working outside the field of education today.

And to my colleagues whose experience has led them down a different path, I say, stay strong. It takes a lot of courage and a lot of strength to throw in the towel and choose your well-being and peace of mind over your career. It takes willpower to ignore the voices around you. Voices that will surely criticize you and make you feel like the worst person in the world for quitting.

One teacher's thought on how quickly vacancies are filled when teachers do leave. 
While I am not 100% sure how I feel about the above post. I do understand why this person and so many others feel this way. Not only is education run like a business, it is one. When people leave, they are replaced, but for reasons unlike the one above. To put it plainly, teachers are replaced. And they are replaced because we have classrooms filled with students that need teachers.  

While I have not had 1000 teachers resign, I agree with the picture above. Education is in a crisis. Our colleagues are leaving and they are leaving the profession now rather than later. And those of us who have decided to look further find that the answer to this crisis is an obscure and complicated one. One that cannot be effectively handled in this post and one that will not be adequately addressed until we admit that we have neglected to handle with care the hearts of our teachers.

Until next time...