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.


  1. Craig,
    I love hearing what your walls are saying! It sounds like a great atmosphere for both students and staff. Although there is always room for improvement and growth, I believe my walls would say many of the same things...Especially, we do what's best for kids.Always! Thanks for sharing all the great things happening at your school!!

    1. Jonathon....I feel the same way about our school. There is ALWAYS room for improvement. If a teacher is continually doing the same thing every year and not growing professionally or willing to try new things, because "it has always worked well in the past", I think it is time for them to move and let someone else take hold of the reins!!

  2. I really like this celebration of your school, Craig. I'm also glad you shared Urban Meyer's 10-80-10 principle. What school leaders have to remember is that we often get caught up in focusing on the bottom 10%, and we've got a majority doing great work! We need to keep our focus on those teachers who do what they're supposed to do and those who go above and beyond what's asked of them.
    Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Great Stuff Jennifer and very true. Thanks for the reminder. I still feel like I make a difference everyday. It is what keeps me going as a teacher:) Stay Positive and Keep Livin' the Dream:)

  3. I am not much of a blog reader, but as usual, found something else on Twitter this AM during the #satchat. Your blog was it:) I read it and will read future posts.

    Concerning the walls listening and talking....what a true statement that is. I am fortunate to work in a school that has a passion for kids. We want them to learn, improve, stretch their minds, and be persons of character. No doubt that all comes down to creating solid relationships. I have stated for years that if I can get kids to believe in what I am trying to accomplish in Room 410, that kids would do anything for me. They would walk through fire for me.

    Urban Meyer's 10-80-10 Principle needs to be shared with kids. The staff could benefit as a great reminder that we are doing some great things. So very true. We know as educators that we cannot save everyone. I know the walls in our school would say that the educators are certainly trying.

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