The ‘One Word’ movement originated by Jon Gordan and has been a fantastic way to retool every January, sort of like a more thoughtful New Year’s resolution. As I write this post about my #OneWord2018 for others so that it will hopefully help them reflect, posts like this are major introspective moments in my leadership journey. I write to articulate where I want to be, not necessarily where I am.
Happy (Early) New Year! As you are wrapping up the last few days of 2017, taking in those last hugs, smiles, high fives, and waves for a few days we (Lindsy, Eric, Jessica, Andy, Todd, and Nick) wanted to challenge ourselves, and our PLN, to think about how to ring in 2018 when everyone returns. This post started as a conversation while preparing for the final days before break. We realized that there is so much time spent on celebrating the last few days before the winter break, but not as much time focused on how to kick off the rest of the school year when staff and students return.
It is critical that students know how they are performing and what they need to do to improve on their skills to be fully invested every day to achieve their learning goals. Student-led conferences are one way to support this effort, and research for many years has stated the positive aspects of involving students in this way. In a study almost twenty years old, parents have expressed their support for this shift, “as one that focused on the whole child, fosters more student-led accountability, and accentuates positive attributes about their child’s learning” (Conderman, et. al, 1998, p 134). So why has it taken so long for student-led conferences to be fully implemented in schools?
I’ve been fortunate to connect with many dads across the country who are passionate about keeping our priorities straight with our kids at home as well as our kids at school. Our Dads As Principals group joined forces with another dad group called Maker Dads to start a podcast called Dads on Deck. We are taking turns on the podcast since there are ten of us between these two groups.
If we don’t run our day, our day will run us. If you are a school administrator or educator, then you know exactly what I mean! We must set priorities and schedule them or other things will take their place whether we like it or not. If it’s that important to us, we must put it on the calendar and stick to it!
Recently I was cleaning out my office closet and noticed that most of it was full of my costumes and accessories that have accumulated over the years! I thought to myself, I wonder how many other principals’ closets look like this?
Work all day. Exhausted. Finally sit down at the kitchen table to shovel in a late dinner. And…out…comes…my cell phone…Why?? It’s like an automatic reaction that I can’t even control! To check the emails that I have may have missed on the way home from work?? I struggle with separating work and home and separating being a principal and being a dad. Most of the time I can’t separate the d and the P in my life and they blend together much more than my own family deserves, like in an infinite loop where both are so vitally important. Our new Dads As Principals logo reminds us of this struggle and how hard we need to work to keep the proper balance.
April is the Month of the Military Child, but this takes on more meaning in our school. Secretary of Defense Casper W. Weinberger, in 1986, started this movement to remind others that military children also sacrifice and serve alongside their parents. Every year, the U. S. Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy continue to their work in promoting our military-connected students.
A recent visit to Washington, DC reminded me of the importance of sharing our support for our military families outside our school community. Led by Amanda Woodyard, our Military Student Transition Consultant for our school division and housed at Ashland, students from Ashland and neighboring schools helped make two quilts to show their support for the armed forces. They made efforts to share their story as military-connected children through these quilts titled “An Elementary Patriotic Thank you” and “We Serve Too.”
I originally wrote this reflection as part of an assignment for my Virginia Tech Government and Policy in Education class a few weeks ago. Recent decision-making regarding changes at the national level has provided excellent reflection on the skills and processes that leaders need in order to have successful and positive change.