I have always actively sought out opportunities to grow professionally. Though I may come across as a PD junkie, I’m intentional about everything I do. I want to learn from the best, implement the best, and ultimately become one of the best at what I do. Part of that strife has included reading books and articles, attending workshops and conferences, and engaging in Twitter chats, Voxer chats, and Google Communities. I network face to face and on the phone with colleagues, and as a result, have no shortage of information at my disposal. I also believe I have a pretty good lens to filter it with to ensure my growth priorities are laser-focused.
Completing my first year as a principal, this was a challenge because I had to figure out what my niche would be in my building and how I could, would, and should serve my students, staff, and families. I am reflecting constantly, and truly enjoy discussing ways to do things better, streamline, and work smarter (which is a really nice way of saying, “How can I get the best results out of the least amount of work?”). At times, it feels like asking questions is a hobby. A framework for that clear instructional vision was laid, and facilitating discussion about the system of delivery digging into what we consider to be best practices for our students (high leverage, “Visible Learning” strategies a la Hattie, Fisher, and Frey) has been a focal point for year 1. So what then do you do, in these infant stages of the journey, when the work so far doesn’t yield the intended outcomes you hoped for?
Do you get mired down and take a defeat? (Not me)
Do you abandon ship and reverse course perhaps teaching to a test? (Patience is tough)
Do you blame the measures from which those outcomes come? (That’s an easy out)
Do you prepare for what lies ahead and know that where you are now is not where you have to stay? (Look forward! That’s the spirit)
The preparation and forward thinking is what continuous improvement is all about. I think about the expression that “nothing great ever came easy,” and Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s words, “It is better to look ahead and prepare, than to look back and regret.” We cannot change what has been done, regardless of the result. Just like winners only celebrate so long before they move on, when we experience any level of defeat, we regroup and prepare for what is next.
It is using those multiple sources of data, not as a be all end all but, as an opportunity to engage in a cycles of inquiry that allow reflection on practice in order to develop our capacity as leaders, learners, and teachers. Asking “why?” “how come?” and “what if?” is crucial to deepening our understanding of the past outcomes so to map out and prepare for what needs to come next. We should learn and grow just like we expect our students to do so. Even through summer. Now is the time rest and recharge, but it is also time to acquire knowledge, hone skills, and prepare for the school year ahead.