Sunday, January 11, 2015

Pieces to the Puzzle

Being a building leader, it is essential that I work with my staff and understand their instructional path. One of my focuses this year has been to work with my teachers to discover, define and implement what their passions are in their teaching. The conversations that we are having are imperative to our success. They hold the pieces to this puzzle.

Working with students at the middle level, I also find a it a priority to discuss with them what they strive for in their academic experience. Even though they are in the early stages of their journey, they hold many pieces to the larger puzzle of the teaching and learning experience. Their input is necessary to our growth as an academic institution.

Puzzles, as we know, are challenging. Arranging, turning and guessing where each piece is placed can be a daunting task. The shear number of pieces and their appearance alone can be overwhelming. My task is to take these various pieces and lay them out in front of each other and show how the interlocking sides can become that completed puzzle we seek in eduction.

It is these very pieces - the perspectives, beliefs, passions and experiences of the student and the teacher, that cultivates an environment that pushes the boundaries of education and redefines what best practices truly are. We must bring our ideas together and collectively determine what it is we want from our experiences.

As these conversations take place, each learns that many of their ideas are more similar than they may have first thought. The pieces to this puzzle will fit together nicely.

Teachers and their students share the following beliefs in their teaching and their learning:

Collaborative spaces. A classroom where students can work together to share their ideas and discuss the topics. A space where teachers can move freely about to support the learning process is essential.

Share the teaching. Their is no longer one teacher within the room. Each wants to be responsible for sharing out the content. If we allow for a sharing of instruction, the return is evident in the achievement students are having.

Feedback is essential. Guide us, share with us and push us with critical questions to the learning we are doing as the student. Whether the child or the adult, both seek feedback to the work. Offer it.

Technology supports the learning. Teachers and students agree that technology is essential in todays classroom. Both agree that technology is intended to enhance the teaching, not replace it. It is a shared belief that both students and teachers rely on each other in the learning on how to use technology in instruction.

Accountability. Students want to be held to the highest standard possible. Teachers agree. Not always the easiest of tasks, still a critical one at that. Don't allow "lost homework" and poor attendance to be an excuse for failing grades. Instead, pool resources and find solutions.

Take risks together. We have gone through our lives, young and old, learning from our mistakes. Mistakes happen due to a risk we have taken. In teaching and learning we should be offered the opportunity to take risks and learn along the way. Imagine the possibilities.

The pieces to the puzzle are laid out on the table and we are working together to create a year of success. Student achievement, regardless of how you measure it, will increase. Passions will be evident, impact will occur and best practices will continue to evolve.

Work with and listen to your students and your teachers to determine what their needs and wants are of your environment. Cultivate the great things that are happening and watch the growth continue.