Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Walls Are Talking

Walking through my school building this year I am noticing more than ever that the walls are talking. What they are saying is inspiring, validating and rewarding to the work that is taking place. Like you, I have been listening carefully and then responding to what I hear. This post is my opportunity to share what is being said. We know that if we don't tell our story, someone else will. With that, here is my opportunity to share what my walls are saying.

Teachers are Invested in Relationships. Listening to the work of my colleagues, dialogue is non-stop and happening in every corner of our school building. Not only are they talking content, but they are talking about students and the successes and failures of instruction and the next steps to support them and each other. Teachers are constantly striving to dive deeper into their relationships with each other and with their students. The walls are capturing that relationships come first.

Passion is Alive and Well. Listening to Dave Burgess 18 months ago and then bringing his work to my teachers, I knew that they would embrace and apply his message. He gets passion in teaching and learning and therefore we get it too. Our classrooms are alive with passion. Teachers are embedding personal and professional passions into their work and even more so, they are working to embed students passions into the lessons they teach. When passion for teaching and learning is at its highest point, that is when the walls speak the loudest.

Leaders Encourage others to Lead. Your school, like mine, has many teachers that not only deliver quality instruction to their students but they also take on roles within their teams, departments or the district with leadership. Our halls are full of leaders. Not all of them have come naturally.
Recently many on my staff read Above the Line by Ohio State Football Coach Urban Meyer. In that book he talks about "10-80-10". The first 10, those are the ones that strive for excellence in all that they do. They go to the weight room on their own. They lead without pause. The 80, well that is the majority. We do lots of great things and we work hard and we embrace the daily grind. We lead, but typically need to be asked. The bottom 10, well, those are the underachievers, the passive, the unmotivated. They struggle with even following. 
What my walls are saying is that my top 10% are pulling more and more of the 80% to follow where they are going. Leaders are cultivating more leaders. Progress is being made. Impacts of this are felt. 
Culture Drives Everything. If your walls could talk about the culture they would have plenty to say. The walls in which I work would say a few specific things when it comes to our culture. They would share that:
  • We are a family more than anything else.
  • We do what is best for kids. Always.
  • When we struggle or fail we lean on each other and we strive to improve.
  • Being held accountable is something we ask of others and ourselves.
  • Time is our enemy, not our excuse.
  • Celebrating our success is essential.
Walls talk. We listen. These are just a few of things I hear as I walk through Hilliard Weaver Middle School with over 1000 students and staff each day. My walls are alive. It is not always positive and it is not always easy. There are stumbles and we make mistakes. We learn from them, we grow and we listen. Share your story and share what your walls are saying.