There is none who cannot teach somebody something, and there is none so excellent but he is excelled. ~Baltasar Gracian
Week 22 in Review
Last week we started the conversation about planning our school improvement for the 2012-2013 year. This is a conversation that will provide the underpinning for the entire planning sequence in the next months. This is a conversation about how we want and need to sustain change in order to improve our practices not only as the St. Joseph School District or as Benton High School, but more importantly how you are changing the microcosm that is your classroom. Reading works by Michael Fullan, an author of educational change theory, reminded me that for change to be authentic, it can’t be superficially occurring only at the leadership or planning levels. For change to be real and sustained, Fullan states that, “our theory of action informs us that any strategy of change must simultaneously focus on changing individuals and the culture or system within which they work” (November 2006). Consider what you have changed in your instructional practice this year. What is different? Where have you improved your pedagogy? How did you improve your content knowledge? Did technology integration change how you interacted with students, your subject matter, and the world? These are critically important questions that must be answered for “where are we?” and “where do we want to go?” in order to plan for improvement and sustain the change we have already realized.
Also last week we celebrated our students in their academic achievements. We need to keep improving this process. What can your department do to celebrate the academic achievements of students taking your courses? I challenge you to create a celebration process and make it public. Make the expectations public. Make them achievable, and most of all celebrate loudly. What will you award? Will you give something for your award? Remember — do not give prizes that are not supportive of our school mission or district policy. It makes no sense to award perfect attendance with a day away from school. Oh, the irony. Let’s make the goal for your department to openly celebrate be no later than the end of the third quarter. I can’t wait to see your ideas.
Week 23 – A Look Ahead
Low and behold, this is a quiet week. What a great time to step up our game on things that are important to us as an instructional staff and to our school operationally. How are your classroom expectations being met? I feel it’s appropriate to think back to the beginning of the year when we are all excited and solidarity was strong. We must support each other by taking care of the small things that in amalgamation make big differences. Stay strong on classroom management. Plan lessons and implement using your full instructional time. Build play into your lessons and enjoy learning with your students. Analyze your data and make intentional instructional decisions that impact student understanding. Perhaps these are not actually small things…but we must be vigilant in paying attention to them to allow our students and our school to be successful.
Thursday is ACT Academy #3. That’s really our only big academic event this week. Other than that, be thinking of whether or not you will be a part of the upcoming SIP team or if you are unable to commit, who in your department you feel needs to be included in the planning. It’s a great time to also start having the conversations around your 2012-2013 Power Standards for the courses you teach. I urge you to think ahead. You will be happy you did.
Images available through Creative Commons on Flikr: “Burning Match” by John C. Shaw; “Unbelievable” by FUNKYAH; “An apple a day will light your way” by Ahd Photography.