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.
Education does not have to be miserable. All of those things we complain about in the great system of education can be improved. It starts with us. With our thinking, planning, and effort. Recently, two or our 4th grade teachers, Mrs. Clevenger and Mrs. Milleson took basic math decimals practice to a new level of engagement, fun, and efficiency. They called it the Decimal Diner.
Using new technology just because it looks cool or because it makes you feel innovative is not enough. Culture, instruction, and the needs of students come first, technology comes after. At Ashland Elementary, we have worked tirelessly to research and try new technologies but to also quickly re-assess usage for students. I talk every day with my superstar Instructional Technology Coach Mr. Benware and the rest of our staff about what is best for students and teachers. Many times we discuss what we will not do along with what we will do next. Our educational philosophies drive our implementation of technology. We believe in our shared school vision of Kind, Creative, Hard-working, Safe, and Fun. We believe that ALL students should have access and learn through the best technology available and that it shouldn’t be dependent on if we feel like doing it or not. We believe that technology should give students a voice and build confidence. We believe that students and teachers should be supported emotionally and physically when taking …
Are you happy in life? Are you happy in your job? Do you even know the things that should make you happy? As a renewal of motivation in our school, I met with all of my school teams recently to discuss this very thing. To be effective with students, I have come to realize that teachers and administrators need to be happy at school! Not giddy, but truly happy in our work. If we want our students to be happy and want to be in school, then we must make sure we are doing things that make ourselves happy and want to be in school as well!
Virginia Tech security just taught me a life lesson this week, but probably not the one you would expect!
For many, dyslexia is a mysterious and strange word of a disorder that sounds like it is really difficult to support in school. The reality is much different. Parents have been bringing this concern for their child to our schools for years and finally we are addressing it in a more systematic and educated manner.
Weirdness isn’t weakness! It’s a way to celebrate the unique ways we can engage our school community by any means possible. We try so hard in leadership positions to be what we think others want us to be, remembering the many, many leadership ‘characteristics’ that are apparently so vital for success. We read, try to imitate, fail, and then go back to reading more to find the ‘answer’ to how we should be.
When inspiration, reflection, and engagement comes together with your staff, this is an example of what you can accomplish. At our 1st staff meeting in January, we asked teachers to write what they believed for their students and then show it on video. The twist is that we played the video back in reverse! This was quick to make and didn’t take much time in the staff meeting, but the visuals are powerful.