In caring, I experience the other as having potentialities and the need to grow. In helping the other grow, I do not impose my own direction; rather, I allow the direction of the other’s growth to guide what I do, to help determine how I am to respond. ~Milton Maveroff
A teacher stopped by my office last week to tell me, “It worked, Ma’am.” “What worked?” I asked, puzzled for lack of context. “The ‘sidle up.’ It worked with one of my toughest students.” I smiled. I was so happy to hear that news. And I was ever so grateful this teacher took the time to stop in and share that story with me. I knew what student this teacher was working with; this is one tough kid to reach. Seven others of you have this child in your classes too. He presses every one of our buttons, and he is good at it. Todd Whittaker, author and educational researcher, has some very good advice and strategies that he said GREAT teachers follow in order to function in schools. The sidle up was one of those tips. According to Whittaker, I need to be sharing those tips with you; that’s what good leaders do. I promise I will do better at researching and sharing those strategies and tips.
This week is parent conference week. I learned that good principals help guide teachers in their interactions with parents. I hope the script we offered Wednesday helped you some. Here are three more quick tips about interacting with parents that I have read in Whittaker’s works:
- Always remember that our parents send us their best children. I laughed out loud when I heard TW claim, “You know, parents don’t keep the best kids at home for themselves and send us the rest to deal with.” I hadn’t really thought of it that way. They do send us their best children, and often their most precious cargo. I know my own sons are that to me.
- Parents want us to hear them. Funny what you hear when you really listen to people’s stories. It doesn’t even matter if the child is honor roll or ISS. And it’s so incredible what we learn when we take a minute to really listen to WHAT the parents are talking about. Try this during parent teacher conference talks this week…ask your parents, “How can I help you?” And then just listen.
- Great teachers stay positive. TW explains that there are copious numbers of situations in our profession that pull us under and make us feel low. Sharing those feelings with our parents (or even each other) rarely move one forward or upward. He reiterates that the best way to reach parents (and students) is to understand the power of praise. Find a way to praise your CAMPer when you talk with his parent. Have you ever thought, “Gosh, I am praised too much?” Probably not. I am fairly certain our parents feel the same way about raising their teenaged children.
Praise and celebrations: I don’t want to forget to thank you all ahead of time for your GREAT work on parent contacts. I also don’t want to forget to ask you to praise and celebrate our students this week for their participation and success in their extra-curricular events. Our successes are often far beyond a scoreboard or placement in a competition. We have so many events where we measure students outside of school. The work is rigorous even when it is fun. Our students perform their best or at least as much as we are willing to train them to do or expect them to achieve. We are in a time of district, regional, and state competitions. From band to speech and debate to all our fall athletics – the pressure is on us to achieve. I am proud of all our coaches, staff supervisors and students for giving their best. I hope you will join me in sharing that appreciation.
Week 10 – A Look Ahead
Let’s continue to focus our administrative walkthroughs to look for and provide feedback on teacher behavior, especially after our JEPD last Wednesday. What are you doing when we see you teaching? Where are in the classroom? How are you interacting with your students? Remember, do not allow our students to passively opt out of learning. And consider the three tips above when you work with our students as well.
PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCES – all week. Make sure you complete your contact log and document your interactions with our parents.
Thursday – Pep Assembly schedule. This is the final fall pep assembly. Let’s make it great!
Friday – three-hour early out for all students and faculty.
Saturday is the ACT test. Please encourage all our testing students and especially those in ACT Academy. Their best is our success as well.
~Excellence is a journey not a destination.~