Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Perception is reality. (The objective is to make them the same.)

I’ve often said that the five people who influence me the most and on a daily basis… I’ve never met. I’ve never met Lyn Hilt, a distinguished connected educator who blogs at Learning in Technicolor. I have been reading Lyn’s tweets since June of 2011. When she was a principal, I was fascinated and impressed with all the innovative learning experiences that seemed to permeate throughout her entire school. Then one day during a Google Hangout she said, “Shawn, I used to think the same as you. Just because you see it on social media doesn’t mean it’s the culture of the school. I have pockets of innovation happening at my school and this is what I choose to share. You will not see the poor classrooms.”
Many times the same is true when I speak with teachers.
“Teachers self-promote. In that, we’re no different than everyone else: proudly framing our breakthroughs, hiding our blunders in locked drawers, forever perfecting our oral résumés. This isn’t all bad. My colleagues probably have more to learn from my good habits (like the way I use pair work) than my bad ones (like my sloppy system of homework corrections), so I might as well share what’s useful. In an often-frustrating profession, we’re nourished by tales of triumph.” – Ben Orlin
If we truly want to offer value to those around us, we must create conditions so that teachers trust one another to share the most honest stories that we can tell. If we only reveal the good and disguise the bad and the ugly, we take the risk of maintaining a gap between perception and reality. More importantly, we take the risk of becoming comfortable, complacent, and stagnant. Let’s teach 25 years, not one year 25 times.
Something to think about.

The quality of a school cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.

Effective principals work relentlessly to create a strong climate for quality instruction and to define in detail what their pedagogical expectations look, sound, and feel like in the classroom. To do this, principals must become intimately familiar with what is required to improve the quality of teaching and learning. In other words, knowing what you don’t want instructionally has very little impact on student learning. On the contrary, having a strong understanding of what you do want to see in every classroom can make change become a reality. How else can a principal model, implement, support, monitor, and communicate effectively?
Keep in mind, it’s unreasonable to ask a professional to change much more than ten percent a year, but it’s unprofessional to change by much less than ten percent a year. Great educators take responsibility for their own learning rather than waiting for their school district to tell them when and what to learn. As a principal, we must lead this effort. Otherwise, it will be difficult to assist teachers and to engage in relevant conversations.
Something to think about.

"Every Day"

What you do every day matters more than what you do every 
once in a while. Review your goals and expectations. Add “every day” to the end of the statement and do it. Doing something every day versus every once in a while is the difference between good and great.
If your goal is to get into teacher's classrooms, then do it every day.  If your goal is to provide specific feedback at the time of the teaching, then do it every day.  Choose to be great because it's contagious.   
Something to think about.

Zeros Teach Responsibility

When I was in school many years ago, I remember a few students who frequently were given zeros for incomplete assignments throughout their elementary, middle school, and high school career.  Twenty years later, these same students grew up to become adults who cannot hold a job; who are unorganized; and who are extremely irresponsible.  According to some educators, these people should now be the most responsible people in the world.
Great teachers focus on mastery and a zero just isn't going to cut it.  In many cases, a zero reflects two people who failed in the classroom.
Something to think about.