Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day One of the Journey

As I sat at my computer this morning I am faced with the daunting task of "What to write about first?"
And then it hits me, awkwardly, square in the face.  Today, the second to last day before winter break, here comes my colleague walking into my office at 7:35AM wearing the most hideous sweater I have ever seen. 

Speechless.

And then she reminds me, "today is Tacky Sweater Day"!  And as I peer out into the office I realize that this sweater thing is contagious.  My computer tech is wearing an amazingly odd get-up that goes just belows his knees and has a belt (I am thinking it was once a robe) and it sways behind him as he walks.  My Art teacher has found a turtleneck, that has candy canes on it, and a vest decorated with a winter landscape reminiscent of a story book setting.  One of the secretaries has on a red and green sweater that has snowflakes made of cotton balls...awkward.  The staff is engulfed in laughter at what they have each found hidden deep within their closets. 

So as I observe the laughter I remind myself that I have to be a "21st Century Academic Leader"!  How can I pull this off?  It doesn't take long until I go back (mentally) to my undergrad courses where we studied that there is a connection between what we expect of our employees and how their environment shapes the types of employees they are.  We have to remind ourselves that our climate of where we work has a direct correlation to our performance and what we accomplish.  They're are countless studies that prove that the better the environment, the greater productivity attained.  Furthermore, each year various lists are published of the best places to work. CNN recently released their list:

(http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2011/index.html)

And I ask myself where would my place of work fall on this list if given the opportunity?  Can I compare my environment to that of Google or Dreamworks?  Ask yourself the same question.  Regardless if you are the one who is employed somewhere or even better if you have the good fortune to be in charge.

So in the end I make this connection, an ah-ha of sorts - "Tacky Sweater Day" will directly, or indirectly, improve student achievement!  Of course there will not be a test question or short-answer response appear on any state mandated assessment.  However today, and many other days just like this, there will be an environment where teachers want to teach, and students want to learn, even if that means that we have to be surrounded by reindeer and snowmen and ornaments all attached to sweaters.