Get to know ’em! 

A few years ago I attended an assistant principal seminar and picked up a tip that I thought was wonderful. It addressed a concern of mine, how am I supposed to support all these students if I don’t know them. The opportunity to meet and get to know the students in your building is not an easy task. I decided to give this new advice a trial run so I started to meet all of the 6th grade students in our building at the beginning of the year. A little something I call “6 for 6“. Simply put, this is the opportunity meet with six students for six minutes (at least I try to get it in 6 minutes). This opportunity unveils the chance to meet the kids get to know their names and ultimately fulfill one of my goals, to get to know kids by name and support them the best I can.

I ask three simple questions, the first being their first and last names in the hope that I can remember names and faces of the 300+ students that are new to our building each year. Secondly, I asked them to share a favorite thing to do, so I can get to know them a little bit better. Thirdly, I ask them to share a goal for the school year or a success that they’ve already accomplished for the school year. 

I truly enjoy this time that I have with these kids even though it is very short. It gives me the opportunity to interact with students in a small group setting and help them to be comfortable in the leap from elementary to middle school. I sincerely feel this is a practice that should be done by all principals to get to know your students better and to help them to have a great experience in your building. 

This has become a standard practice in my role as Assistant Principal, try it, you’ll love the personalized interactions!

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Group I.Q. 

Yesterday we had a Team Leader Meeting to discuss some of the important topics for upcoming school year. There are some important takeaways from the meeting that have nothing to do with the decisions we made. 
We have a lot of talented and experienced teachers who make our building a great learning environment. Making sure they have a voice in the direction of the school is very important as we strive to be a world class school district. 

Acknowledging and engaging leaders in a setting makes for a driven group of people who advocate for the success of an organization. This is no different in education. Teachers and principals have a unique relationship because unlike the business sector,  where you may find a top down approach, teachers are asked to share their take on the direction of a school. 

My belief is that working together towards a common goal can be very powerful. Modeling collaboration and the 21st century skills we want our students to use is critical in moving a school. Working through what I call “Group I.Q.” allows for professional dialog between educators with many perspectives and experiences. The more diverse the thinking, the better the opportunity for a working solution. 

Walking out of the meeting, I was energized by the passion our teachers have about student learning and the success of our school. Thank you for all you do to ensure success for ALL students. 

The End is a New Beginning

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Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result is well known as the definition of insanity. This comes into play academically and behaviorally. As we complete the “testing season” and final weeks of the year, we as educators should reflect on the decisions we have made to help students overcome learning challenges. We also need to look at how we are trying to change behavior.

Academic accountability
My hope is that all teachers have a great understanding of their students’ success at this point of the year without having a high-stakes summative assessment to know that their students have learned the learning targets established at the beginning of the year. Utilizing a formative assessments to identify if they’re learning throughout the year and be able to assess where reteaching needs to happen weave together seamlessly in learning. This is the point where differentiation takes over, when professionals need to go in change the way that they’re teaching in order to meet the needs of their diverse learners.

Feedback, what to do with it…
Our district believes in getting feedback from students, staff, and families throughout the year. As a part of my assistant principal survey I received some feedback that things were not necessarily where staff wanted them to be. As I’ve had some time to reflect on this I know there are areas where I need to grow as a professional. This is an opportunity to stand up, dust myself off, take a look in the mirror and ask myself, “how do I want to be better”? What can I do to help our students and staff to be the best they can be? I am a servant leader and the support I give to others is critical in student learning.

I hope all of you take the time this summer to reflect on how you can make a positive difference in the lives of students and staff you get to work with everyday.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

Owning your actions

Everyday as an assistant principal in the Middle School setting I find myself discussing this phrase with students. “Owning your actions”, is more than just words, it is something that defines your character and what type of person you want to be.  Personally,  I believe that making someone’s day and being positive helps others to overcome their challenges by pointing out the ray of sunshine in a gloomy moment.

How do I own my actions and my interactions with staff members and students? There needs to be a balance of finesse and straightforward, it becomes something of an art form and something I’m still working on trying to be better at. Understanding the decisions that you make often times have a consequence to them sometimes positive, hopefully lot of times positive, but sometimes it also can be negative. Some of the reactions may happen because of misinformation or assumption.

Either way find the time to have conversations with staff members and students to explain your point of view and hopefully to overcome some of those hard feelings. 

Own your actions with a face to face conversation, find time! If they are important to you, it WILL be worth every moment you take.

It’s Been a While

The last blog post I wrote was two career changes ago. I  was a Technology Integration Specialist for the elementary schools in the district and training staff about technology integration was my passion.

Since then a lot has changed but my belief in bringing out the best in others has not faltered.

After a 4-year stint in 5th grade, I am now in the 3rd year as the Assistant Principal at New Prague Middle School. I have had so many wonderful experiences in working with students and staff.

I would like to share my journey through the most noble of careers… Education!

Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you can take something from my experience and make it your own.

RB