Relationships, relationships, relationships

The more experience I have in education the more I realize how important it is to have positive relationships with all stakeholders. It reminds me of trying to sell a house. When you are house hunting or trying to sell a house it all comes to location, location, location. The same thing goes for relationships and school. The success of any individual/group depends on the relationships and trust that are built within that organization.

George Couros states in his article, 8 Characteristics of the Innovative Leader, “In order to get all staff members to embrace new ideas you must have solid relationships.” People need to feel valued and safe to embrace new ideas. It is important to create a culture that it is safe in our buildings for our principals, teachers, and students to try new things. This isn’t easy and there will be many failures but when you have solid relationships success will eventually come to fruition.

Reflection time is important and necessary for growth. However, relationship building doesn’t happen behind a desk. So after I write this article I am leaving my office and going to connect with some staff and students at Rutherford School. Those solid relationships will help our district continue to meet the needs of our community and empower all students to exceed their potential.

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15 Powerful Shifts that Transform Leadership

15 Powerful Shifts that Transform Leadership.

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10 Ways to Deal with Weaknesses in Others

Nice article that made me think about the way I view some of the people I work with. It is easy to compare others to my strengths or the strengths of their peers. Great read for anyone in leadership.

10 Ways to Deal with Weaknesses in Others.

via 10 Ways to Deal with Weaknesses in Others.

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Secrets to Great Presentations

Secrets to Great Presentations.

via Secrets to Great Presentations.

via Secrets to Great Presentations.

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Efficient use faculty meetings

The article found here resonated with me and made me reflect about how we conduct our faculty/district meetings. Time is precious and as administrators it is important to utilize that time wisely. As I read the article I started thinking about how we typically structure faculty meetings. Most of the time there is a laundry list of items that we go over to make sure staff members are “in the know.” Most of those items can be shared through an email. The idea of using the flipped classroom model for faculty meetings does interest me. I have tried it a few time this year by utilizing programs such as voicethread and other measures. I hope to try and model this more at the district level so principals will try it in their buildings. A goal for any faculty meeting/professional development session should be rich discussion with staff members about important topics/vision/goals.

Every time we talk about professional development, teachers always mention that the best PD occurs when they get to meet and discuss important topics together. In a short faculty meeting you could have some rich conversations about RTI, data teams, subgroup gaps, literacy strategies, etc.

Here are some sample questions you could send out to teachers prior to a faculty meeting about RTI.
1. Why do we have RTI?
2. What is Tier I, II, and III?
3. How does it work in my building? How are students identified? What is my role in this process?
4. What is the difference in Tier II students and students that receive additional instruction scheduled during your 30 minute intervention time?
5. What is working? What is not working? How can we make it better?

Then when you have a faculty meeting, divide your staff into groups and facilitate discussion regarding the questions above. After ample discussion time you can bring the groups back together to develop a consensus for the school and share that in document form with the staff.

“Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.” John Maxwell

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The big, ever-changing world

Most days I like to think of myself as a “connected” educator. I blog, albeit rarely, tweet, and keep up with articles using RSS readers. This gives me a chance to access and connect with educators and leaders across the world. The problem I have is that the more I reach out and read, the more I realize that I have a long way to go. There are some people that are doing some amazing things in their district individualizing professional development for their teachers using technology and social connections. We aren’t there yet and I need to do a better job being a model for this type of development.

The article that got me to thinking about all of this can be found here. It was an article by William M. Ferriter and Nicholas Provenzano. I started thinking about how even though I am “connected” I don’t really use those connections to make specific improvements. I will keep up to date on the important events that are going on in Tennessee and will retweet a few noteworthy items. I will also read an article that grabs my attention. However, I don’t get many things that I act on. I use the resources to develop myself but if I don’t put those into action and help share or improve my district then I might as well have been watching reruns on TV.

Hopefully as I keep reaching out and opening doors like the authors mentioned I will get closer to where I want to be as a “connected educator.”

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To call or not to call

I find that one of the most stressful times that I deal with is whether to cancel school during inclement weather. Many decisions I make are not so public. However, cancelling school could be a major PR fiasco. Usually no matter what decision is made, some people will be happy and some won’t.

We are in the job of educating children. If they aren’t in school that can’t happen. However, we also have to make sure we provide a safe learning environment. A day of lost instruction is one that we can’t get back. Therefore it is important to make sure to use our snow days appropriately. That creates a delicate balancing act. It would break my heart to know that someone got hurt travelling to school because we chose not to cancel school. It would also break my heart to know we missed out on a day of instruction that would help our students graduate college and career ready.

This past weather event definitely showed the possibility for some bad weather and we still haven’t gotten to the coldest part of the weather yet. The timing of the event plays a big part of the decision making process. There is nothing worse than having parents drop off their kids and then two hours later we cancel school and they have to make plans to pick them up. I will be honest I like to try and wait as long as I can before calling school off, however, you have to remember that parents have to scramble when decisions are made last minute.

I know that over the years there will be times that we will miss the call. I hope that when we do “miss it,” we err on the side of safety. I hope that everyone stays safe today and this weekend. Rest up and be ready to hit the ground running when we start back, hopefully on Monday.

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